1979 to 1981: Tracy Austin was the best. - TennisForum.com
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Old May 26th, 2004, 11:26 AM   #1
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1979 to 1981: Tracy Austin was the best.

Comparing the results of the 3 top players in those 3 years (Austin, Evert, Navratilova):

1. Tournament wins:
1. Austin (23 out of 49 = 46.9%),
2. Evert (22/47=46.8%),
3. Navratilova (29/64=45.3%)

2. On 17 occassions the 3 played the same event.
1. Navratilova had the best result 6 times (out of those 17), 2nd best 8 times.
2. Austin was the best 6 times, 2nd best 4 times.
3. Evert was the best 5 times, 2nd best 5 times.

3. Major tournaments: Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, Australian Open, Avon Championships, Toyota Championships.
1. Austin won 5 (out of 12),
2. Navratilova 5 (of 15),
3. Evert 4 (of 14).

4. Matchrecord:
1. Evert 220:24 (90.2%),
2. Austin 212:24 (89.8%),
3. Navratilova 257:35 (88%).

5. Head-to-Head:
1. Austin (9:9 vs. Navratilova, 9:3 vs. Evert),
2. Navratilova (8:6 vs. Evert),
3. Evert

6. Consistency:
1. Evert (lost 5 times before the semis in 47 tourneys),
2. Navratilova (lost 7 times before the semis in 64),
3. Austin (lost 9 times before the semis in 49).
All of them lost twice before the semis at a major.

I thought these were the most important categories. Any other suggestions?

Austin leads in 3 of them, being last only once: 4 quarterfinal losses in 1981 spoiled her constency record. Altogether she's a quite clear number one.

It's close between Navratilova and Evert, Evert leads in 2 out of those 6 categories (Navratilova only once), but Evert played more tournaments when neither Navratilova nor Austin were around hence her better match- and constitency record. Still, Evert won Wimbledon 81 and US Open 80, the 2 biggest events, Navratilova only Wimbledon 79, so I'd give Evert a (close) number 2 spot.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 03:22 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert1
Comparing the results of the 3 top players in those 3 years (Austin, Evert, Navratilova):

1. Tournament wins:
1. Austin (23 out of 49 = 46.9%),
2. Evert (22/47=46.8%),
3. Navratilova (29/64=45.3%)

2. On 17 occassions the 3 played the same event.
1. Navratilova had the best result 6 times (out of those 17), 2nd best 8 times.
2. Austin was the best 6 times, 2nd best 4 times.
3. Evert was the best 5 times, 2nd best 5 times.

3. Major tournaments: Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, Australian Open, Avon Championships, Toyota Championships.
1. Austin won 5 (out of 12),
2. Navratilova 5 (of 15),
3. Evert 4 (of 14).

4. Matchrecord:
1. Evert 220:24 (90.2%),
2. Austin 212:24 (89.8%),
3. Navratilova 257:35 (88%).

5. Head-to-Head:
1. Austin (9:9 vs. Navratilova, 9:3 vs. Evert),
2. Navratilova (8:6 vs. Evert),
3. Evert

6. Consistency:
1. Evert (lost 5 times before the semis in 47 tourneys),
2. Navratilova (lost 7 times before the semis in 64),
3. Austin (lost 9 times before the semis in 49).
All of them lost twice before the semis at a major.

I thought these were the most important categories. Any other suggestions?

Austin leads in 3 of them, being last only once: 4 quarterfinal losses in 1981 spoiled her constency record. Altogether she's a quite clear number one.

It's close between Navratilova and Evert, Evert leads in 2 out of those 6 categories (Navratilova only once), but Evert played more tournaments when neither Navratilova nor Austin were around hence her better match- and constitency record. Still, Evert won Wimbledon 81 and US Open 80, the 2 biggest events, Navratilova only Wimbledon 79, so I'd give Evert a (close) number 2 spot.

Some very interesting stats within your chosen timeframe, Robert1. As you can imagine a few things come to mind but I'll need a bit of time to formulate them properly.

You are a brave man, risking the wrath of the massed armies of the wicked witches of the East (Navratilova) and West (Evert) plus their faithful black cat, Pamela Howard Shriver, in promoting that pinafored upstart little pipsqueak. Brace yourself
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Old May 26th, 2004, 04:00 PM   #3
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Who's the best in that time frame has always been debatable. According to your stats, Austin looks the best. However, it all depends on how much weight the Slams weigh. Obviously, the '79 and '80 French had weak fields and only the '81 Australian had all the top players. So, if you take only Wimbledon and the USO from '79 and '80 plus all four from '81, look at this.

Evert 6 of 8 finals, 2 SF; 2 wins (plus 2 watered down French titles)
Navratilova 3 of 8 finals, 3 SF, 2 wins
Austin 2 of 8 finals, 3 SF, 2 wins

That's probably where Evert made up some ground on the other categories. Obviously, Austin had Evert's number for awhile. I'm an Evert fan but not so close-minded to think that there's a case for Austin here. Not Martina though. She'd have her time at the top.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 05:32 PM   #4
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WTA year-end computer rankings should be considered, too:

1979: 1. Navratilova 2. Evert 3. Austin

1980: 1. Evert 2.Austin 3. Navratilova

1981: 1. Evert 2. Austin 3. Navratilova

These give Chris a clear lead.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 05:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by preacherfan
Who's the best in that time frame has always been debatable. According to your stats, Austin looks the best. However, it all depends on how much weight the Slams weigh. Obviously, the '79 and '80 French had weak fields and only the '81 Australian had all the top players. So, if you take only Wimbledon and the USO from '79 and '80 plus all four from '81, look at this.

Evert 6 of 8 finals, 2 SF; 2 wins (plus 2 watered down French titles)
Navratilova 3 of 8 finals, 3 SF, 2 wins
Austin 2 of 8 finals, 3 SF, 2 wins

That's probably where Evert made up some ground on the other categories. Obviously, Austin had Evert's number for awhile. I'm an Evert fan but not so close-minded to think that there's a case for Austin here. Not Martina though. She'd have her time at the top.

I'd agree preacherfan. I'm one of those that doesn't want to discount the rest of the year but feels that what you do in the slams is most important. In that time period, I'd have to say Chrissie's at the top.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 06:55 PM   #6
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You might also say that the Colgate and Avon tournaments were a little less important than at other times since there were two of them each year. That divided the year into two segments -- winter indoor season and the rest of the year. Austin clearly had the best record in those tournaments '79 - '81. Yet on the strength of my Slam argument above, I'd give a slight edge to Chrissie also.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 07:25 PM   #7
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Robert1, I feel like I'm watching the prequel to "1990-93 Monica Seles was the Best" movie and prequels are, invariably, pitifully pale imitations of the "orginals".

Why 79-81? If you added in 78 or 82, in both of which years Tracy was playing, or even half of each of those years, all the stats and all the placings would change dramatically. I could compose a set of stats for 78-80 and 81-93 to arrive at a completely different conclusion. Tracy would be out of the equation both times. She was not the #1 player in 79, she was not the #1 player in 80 and she was not the best player (imo, though I respect the view held by some that she deserved the top spot) in 81. She held the number one spot for a few weeks in 1980, granted, and was even seeded #1 at the US Open in 1980, but was second or third-ranked for most of that period, and not without reason.

Sorry, but I don't see the value of this exercise.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 07:31 PM   #8
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Personally, I see them all as pretty much equal during that timeframe. I would rank them by year as follows:

1979: 1. Martina 2. Chris 3. Tracy
1980: 1. Chris 2. Tracy 3. Martina
1981: 1. Tracy 2. Martina 3. Chris

Say you give a point for a #1 rank, 2 points for #2 etc. etc., all 3 end up with 6 points.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 08:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy T
Sorry, but I don't see the value of this exercise.
its as interesting as arguing whether clisters or henin was better between 2001-2003. which one was it, damn it! ...THROWS PIE...

if there was some way to prove something, or if proving it could matter at some significant level, then thats a discussion. but based on a mere 3 years of play between someone finishing up her 5 years being #1 and making mid career decisions, a rising child star who had no pressure and nothing to lose but whose nerves might not hold up past being age 19, and a third player with an entirely different story striving for and soon reaching the top, not just of the rankings, but a new plateau for womens tennis...those are the only real dynamics at play here.

but between those dynamics, at least the first one was busy being #1 all those years and the last one was going to change the history of the game. the monkey in the middle had virtually no impact at all. that's another way to view the meaning of greatness.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 08:29 PM   #10
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I followed tennis closely at this time but was a teenager who probably didn't know much. Question for those with more knowledge. Much has been made about the burnout and injuries of Austin and Jaeger. Did Evert seem to figure out these two and get the upper hand before their declines began? Or did Evert simply take advantage of their weakened bodies?
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Old May 26th, 2004, 08:41 PM   #11
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Thanks for joining in guys.

First of all, why 1979 to 1981? Because those were the years when that competition was so close, it wasn't close in 1978 nor in 1982, as you said Andy, Austin wasn't good enough in those years - so why take them? This is a thread about 79 to 81 because it were interesting, competitive years and my intention is to show that Austin is underrated and the ranking system maybe wasn't very fair. The situation with Seles is different, because as dominant as Seles was, how can you argue her number 1 spot before the stabbing? A discussion wouldn't make much sense.

The "real" rankings, well, you could consider them, Declan, I didn't consider the rankings because HERE I am doing the rankings, it's like Andy doing his own (interesting) rankings the other day, I don't think the "real" ranking was considered there. So proving that the "real" rankings were a bit dodgy means I cannot use them to produce a more objective ranking, see?

Sponsors championships were the most important events after Wimbledon and US Open in 79,80 and about as important as FO and AO in 81, preacherman. So if Navratilova, Evert, Austin won 2 GSs each, the winner of those championships should decide it I think, and Austin was clearly the best of those. That they played out 2 a year is no argument as they had a great field anytime, having the best players, except for New York 1981 (when Navratilova won).

I see your point, Evert got to many more finals (that she lost) than Austin. So the question is: are 2 Grand Slam wins plus 4 lost finals (Evert) better than 2 Grand Slam wins plus zero lost finals plus 3 WTA championship wins (Austin)? I would take the latter results, because I want to find the best player, and the best player must win - not gain the most lost finals. But that's my opinion. If you emphasis pure consistency, Evert's ahead in the category.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 05:21 AM   #12
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BTW: I neither think Austin was a number one in 79 nor in 80, but her constistency over those 3 years at major tournaments, head2head (nobody reacted to that...), match-record, tournament wins was good enough to be considered as the overall best player of that period - which were her prime 3 years. "How good was Tracy Austin in her prime 3 years" - is that worth a discussion ?

Just 1 point is arguable, Preacherfan wrote it here, it's IF you consider losing in Grand Slam finals more important than winning WTA championships, then Evert is ahead.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 05:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert1
Thanks for joining in guys.

First of all, why 1979 to 1981? Because those were the years when that competition was so close, it wasn't close in 1978 nor in 1982, as you said Andy, Austin wasn't good enough in those years - so why take them? This is a thread about 79 to 81 because it were interesting, competitive years and my intention is to show that Austin is underrated and the ranking system maybe wasn't very fair. The situation with Seles is different, because as dominant as Seles was, how can you argue her number 1 spot before the stabbing? A discussion wouldn't make much sense.

The "real" rankings, well, you could consider them, Declan, I didn't consider the rankings because HERE I am doing the rankings, it's like Andy doing his own (interesting) rankings the other day, I don't think the "real" ranking was considered there. So proving that the "real" rankings were a bit dodgy means I cannot use them to produce a more objective ranking, see?

Sponsors championships were the most important events after Wimbledon and US Open in 79,80 and about as important as FO and AO in 81, preacherman. So if Navratilova, Evert, Austin won 2 GSs each, the winner of those championships should decide it I think, and Austin was clearly the best of those. That they played out 2 a year is no argument as they had a great field anytime, having the best players, except for New York 1981 (when Navratilova won).

I see your point, Evert got to many more finals (that she lost) than Austin. So the question is: are 2 Grand Slam wins plus 4 lost finals (Evert) better than 2 Grand Slam wins plus zero lost finals plus 3 WTA championship wins (Austin)? I would take the latter results, because I want to find the best player, and the best player must win - not gain the most lost finals. But that's my opinion. If you emphasis pure consistency, Evert's ahead in the category.
The competition in 78 was really really close, Robert, so much so that you had MN ranked #1 by the WTA and CE made World Champion by the ITF. Jan-Jul was all Martina and Jul-Dec was all Chrissie. Tracy A. was #6 in 78, which brings me back to your starting point - the selection of these 3 years as the time frame. That period "optimises" Tracy's stats - so the assumption upon which you base the argument is slanted towards T.A. from the word go. Martina's career is not divided 73-78, 79-81, 82-ff, etc, and Chris' career is not divided in a way which gives a 79-81 period either. If you were to do your analysis with the phases in their careers as a starting point, the 79-81 timeframe would not figure as a defined period. Do you see what I'm trying to say?

To move from the starting point to your finishing point, concluding that T.A. was "the best" over that whole period is also untenable. Noone would dispuite the fact that she had a brief period or two of pre-eminence within those three years but the other two women you mention sat much more securely on the throne for most of the time: Martina Jan 79-Mar 80 and Chris Nov 80-Dec 81. Tracy is tennis' Lady Jane Grey - England's 9 days' queen who usurped the throne from the Tudor sisters - and got the chop when order was restored.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 06:26 AM   #14
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Hi Andy, I think I should have renamed this thread into "how good was Austin in her best years, the years she was a top-player". Would you accept it then?

As for the number 1 of the "real rankings", it's not quite right what you say. Austin was the number one longer than Evert or Navratilova in 1980 and she was ahead of Navratilova throughout 1981, so a clear dominance cannot be seen here. Also, as I said above, I didn't take the real rankings (as you didn't take them to make your own rankings, cause what is the point of doing new rankings when you use old ones. It's if I'd say, Andrea Jaeger was number 4 in the world in 81, there had to be a reason for this so it doesn't make sense calculating this whole thing over and put her on six). You see what I mean?

btw here are the rankings year by year according to the statistics:

1979: 1. Navratilova, 2. Austin, 3. Evert
1980: 1. Evert, 2. Austin, 3. Navratilova
1981: 1. Austin, 2. Evert, 3. Navratilova

I was surprised myself about the 1979 outcome, but Austin's head2head, match-winning-percentage and consistency (Evert lost 4 times before the semis!) was better than Evert's.

1981 was closer than I had thought, Austin's 4 pre-semi losses almost spoilt it.

If you add up the rankings for each year, it's the same result for that period 1979 to 1981:
1. Austin,
2. Evert,
3. Navratilova.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 06:30 AM   #15
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>>>>><Tracy is tennis' Lady Jane Grey - England's 9 days' queen who usurped the throne from the Tudor sisters - and got the chop when order was restored.

Ouch. That's exactly what I was trying to prove that it's wrong. 3 years is not a short time in professional Tennis. Would be another interesting statistic, how many players won Grand Slam tournaments in a time span of 4 years (or more)?
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