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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 09:13 AM   #31
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I do, Andy, and I absoutetly agree. The point I was referring to is that Austin had overtaken Chris as Monica had overtaken Graf and various circumstances sadly stopped Austin's and Seles' run. The situation with the racket techniques, and competition was indeed different, also the fact that Seles dominated more than Austin did. Interesting quote from Ruzici in autumn 1981, like "Tracy is not regarded as unbeatable anymore by the other players as she was for a while last year".
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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 10:11 AM   #32
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Yep. Even in that 79-81 period, Tracy lost matches to players from Shriver to Barker, Greer Stevens and Sandy Collins. Chrissie, Steffi, Monica and Martina didn't do that in their periods of domination. It's hard to know if Tracy would have had a period like that later on but frankly I doubt it because of the evolution in the games of Evert and Navratilova. My own feeling is that Tracy would have been a player who peaked early in her career as opposed to those who peak later or evolve but that's pure conjecture.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 11:33 AM   #33
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In the 70s all the top players had that kind of losses vs. a Barker, a Turnbull or a Jausovec and the likes. Why was it like that then? Maybe due to a fitness level all the number 1 players had after Navratilova's fitness programm 1982,83,... they were able to win a match simply by their pure better physical condition even on and off day when the shots didn't work as usual.

If so, those losses of Austin are understandable, if not, it means she simply wasn't good enough to be in the same category as Navratilova, Evert, Seles, King etc.

A modern racket would have given her game more dimensions, too. Very hard to tell, but remembering how good Navratilova was in the 80s I also doubt Austin would ever have become a really dominating number 1 player. Nevertheless I can see her ahead of Evert and see her winning a few more US Opens and French Opens and be a threat to Graf in the late 80s.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 11:47 AM   #34
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I know players skipped many slams at the end of the seventies, start of the eighties but fact is austin only won the us open, so I don't think she is in the same breath as the players who won about everything (I include monica), maybe she would have if she had played all slams but fact is she didn't. jmho
It's hard to judge how good she really was though, because I didn't see much tennis of those days.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 12:38 PM   #35
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In her prime 3 years her record at the US Open and the Championships was quite remarkable. Winning 2 Opens, 1 semifinal. Championships: 3 wins, 2 finals. Even the greatest players didn't do much better in their primes.

It definetely is hard to judge, IMO she had the qualities of a no. 1 player and deserved to be there, but watching matches of Seles or Navratilova in their prime and comparing with Austin, well, she's not quite that league.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 10:11 PM   #36
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I know Tracy skipped the French Open during what looking back was sadly her peak period to concentrate on finishing her schooling, understandably thinking she would have many years to play there but as we all know it never happened due to the injuries. When all is said and done she had won two slam titles, reached the #1 ranking and won 30 tour singles titles all before the age of twenty. I think that alone suggests she was on course for one of the great careers.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 12:56 AM   #37
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There are a lot of great posts in here-but then I expect no less from this lot!
Though I love Chris dearly (only Ginny is more dear ) I tend to be less charitable about her intentions towards Austin. For instance, the "pot" reference Zummi mentioned strikes me as accurate. Chris was a child of the 70s and those were some high times. And Chrissie was known (as was gal pal Rosie Casals) for being a toker.

Austin was a threat from day one. She made the cover of Sports Illustrated BEFORE she hit the tour. And if you ever get a chance to see points from their first meeting (77 Wimbledon) you can see the fear in Evert's eyes. The look says,
"Here's a younger model and her goal is to replace me. not only that-she plays like me. Even worse, she doesn't give me my r-e-s-p-e-c-t. " How could they be anything but chilly under those circumstances?

The fact that Navratilova was in Evert's box cheering for Chris in the 1979 US open speaks volumes about how real a threat she was to Martina too.

MirjanaFan has a point too how much she did so young. Playing what amounted to two slams year she won 2 out of 7 slams entered from 1979 to 1981. Not only that, she did it on surfaces that often favored serve and volleyers.

I see no reason why a healthy Austin couldn't have won slams and even (as Robert suggested) kept Graf from winning a few slams. Metal would have been even easier for her than Martina or Chris. After high school she might have won some French Opens. And the slow death of indoor tennis in the mid 80s would have helped Tracy play Martina on more neutral surfaces.

We'll never know. It was possible though. Tracy "Awesome" was that talented.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 03:01 AM   #38
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Yup, Austin made the cover of Sports Illustrated when she was whopping four-years-old, but I've no idea how she managed that feat. Was she being groomed from that young a period? Perhaps the accompianing article (assuming there is one) explains. Evidently she was one of those wonderkids that gets a racket stuck in their hand as soon as they can crawl. Conversely, Chrissie didn't start playing until she was six - a relative late bloomer I suppose!

I don't see the pot reference as a big deal really - certainly all the girls messed with each other on occassion (some more than others!) - Chris was no exception, as she readily admits she was no angel.

Veering slightly off-topic for a moment, Pam stated in her autobiography that her first exchange with Austin was rather memorable. Pam was playing cards with another junior player at a nat'l tourney when she and Tracy were quite young and had not yet met. Tracy was standing behind Pam at the card table and after Pam played her particular hand, Austin quickly stated in her squeaky voice, "That was stupid." Being the up and coming net-charger that she was, without missing a beat, Pam replied, "Shut up or I'll step on you."

Simply classic.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 05:30 AM   #39
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i dont know of anyone who got on great with tracy. there was one match with a number of bad calls between pam & tracy, and at the end tracy threw up her arms in victory which pam thought was distasteful considering so much controversy had gone on through the match, and when tracy got to net, pam told her she was the stupidest piece of shit she knew (ouch) which reportedly turned autin's face completely white and blank. Don't think pam was proud of it, but 99 out of 100, i bet she wouldn't have taken it back. That MEAN pam shriver, but truly one of the great colorful personalities of the game!
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 06:37 AM   #40
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After the outburst, Austin was purportedly horrified and in tears. Later at the press conference Tracy stated, "She said "F" and "S" and...to me." Austin's mother stated (I'm paraphrasing) "My sons aren't even familiar with such language" to which Pam replied "Sheltered sons, those Austin boys." Perhaps someone can hunt down the exact phrasing from Pam's book, it's a hoot.

Did Austin ever play doubles with anyone besides her brother (female players)? My impression from Martina's book and other accounts was that she was rather insulated on tour by her mom from the other players and didn't socialize a lot. Seems she is far more socialable now with the girls than in her playing days...
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 06:56 AM   #41
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Santorofan, believe it or not, Austin played doubles with..... Pam Shriver! That was in 1988 when Tracy was about to return to the tour and get matchplay by playing doubles (before returning to singles competition, which she did in 89 before that car accident happened). So Austin/Shriver played about a handful of tournaments in 1988, one of them in Zurich, where they lost to Kohde/Sukova in the semis (was watching it on Swiss tele).
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 07:11 AM   #42
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She played some doubles with Betty Stove early on, I believe, Santorofan, winning a couple of tourneys in 78 and 79 with her. The Austins must rank as one of the ultimate tennis-playing families, with brothers Jeff and John and sister Pam all playing on the tour. Tracy was obviously immersed in tennis from a very early age and as the youngest sibling no doubt was always trying to catch up wiith the older ones.

It's fascinating to read how people think her career may have evolved. I see her more in the Hana-Sanchez category - may have won a couple more slams but was not going to be one of the very top flight - yet quite a few people seem to suggest that she could well have gone on to great things.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 11:16 AM   #43
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Really Andy? I wouldn't necessarily see her in the league of Evert, Court etc. but definetely ahead of Sanchez, Sabatini, Mandlikova etc. Don't you think the new rackets would have helped her as well? And with her style of game she might have adapt even better to "modern" Tennis than Evert.

An interesting quote by Evert in 1988: She was asked what she thinks about Monica Seles (who had just played 1 tournament as a 14year old amateur), well, Evert said "I see Seles in the same league as Austin and Graf." Also when Tracy made an attempt of a comeback in 1993 Evert spoke very highly about Austin. Well, in a way, she has to, I mean, you don't put down an opponent's abilities that has beaten you so many times.

I think (am not sure) that Austin also played doubles with a Fernandez (not Gigi nor Mary-Joe) in the early 80s.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 01:38 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Robert1
Really Andy? I wouldn't necessarily see her in the league of Evert, Court etc. but definetely ahead of Sanchez, Sabatini, Mandlikova etc. Don't you think the new rackets would have helped her as well? And with her style of game she might have adapt even better to "modern" Tennis than Evert.

An interesting quote by Evert in 1988: She was asked what she thinks about Monica Seles (who had just played 1 tournament as a 14year old amateur), well, Evert said "I see Seles in the same league as Austin and Graf." Also when Tracy made an attempt of a comeback in 1993 Evert spoke very highly about Austin. Well, in a way, she has to, I mean, you don't put down an opponent's abilities that has beaten you so many times.

I think (am not sure) that Austin also played doubles with a Fernandez (not Gigi nor Mary-Joe) in the early 80s.
To use tennivideo's approach, which is the one I like best too, I'd have tiers and I'm only dealing here with 1959 on because I don't know enough and haven't seen enough about the periods before to decide.
In my top tier, there would be (in no particular order) Graf, Court, Navratilova and Evert, with King and Seles narrowly behind. After them, I'd have Bueno, Goolagong and Hingis.
For me Austin comes in the next bunch, along with Hana, Arantxa, Ann Jones and Virginia Wade, and possibly Darlene Hard.

As for the other active players except Monica, AT THE MOMENT, I'd put Serena with Bueno, Goolagong and Hingis for the moment, making a top 10. Venus, Capriati and Henin would be in Austin's group, making a second 10.

In mid 1988, Chrissie was not able to know what either Monica or Steffi would become, so I don't think it is fair to her to read too much into that comment. The implication is that she didn't consider any of them equal to herself and Martina at that point because she leaves those two names, plus those of Court and King, Goolagong and Bueno out of the comparison. If she meant the Monica would make #1, like Steffi and Tracy, then she was right!

As far as her ability to adapt to the modern racquets is concerned, maybe yes, and it would have given her more power of the ground (which she wasn't short of anyway), but personally I feel that she would have had to widen her repertoire of shots, develop her tactical game and drastically improve her serve if she had wanted to challenge into the mid and late 80s. Both Steffi and Monica would have murdered her serve and put her under tremendous pressure. Plus, while everyone points to her excellent record against Chris, you should also turn it around and see that Chris, Martina and Evonne all had very good records against Tracy and, each in her own way, exposed the limitations of Tracy's game.

Tracy's doubles results were not bad when she came back in 88-89. She reached the sf of the mixed at the US Open in 1988, in partnership with Ken Flach. They beat a top pair - Sherwood Stewart and Zina G - in the qf 75 75 but were hammered by Pat McEnroe and Liz Smylie 62 61 in the semis. In the women's doubles, Tracy played with MJF and they were beaten in round 2 by Anne Smith and Ann Henricksson 62 26 75. Someone should get her complete doubles record from the ITF site, as it would make interesting reading, I'm sure.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 01:51 PM   #45
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Ken Flach tanked their 1988 U.S. Open mixed doubles semifinal. Tracy only found out about it later on and was livid. I think he had a flight to catch or something. Will have to check her book for specifics.

Tracy & Pam made their peace in 1988 though at the time of the writing of her book, she said her mother still refused to speak with Pam. Tracy & Pam played an exhibition match in 2000 which was a fundraiser for Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.)
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