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Old May 11th, 2005, 12:44 PM   #1
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Rank These Four

How would you rank the careers of Gabriela Sabatini, Jana Novotna, Conchita Martinez, and Mary Pierce? I think the three have many similar results. Jana is obviously headed to the Hall of Fame this year. Her doubles expertise helped her nose ahead of the others for this recognition. Rank them 1-4.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 12:53 PM   #2
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Some stats
Novotna's career record 530-208, 24 titles, 1 Slam Victory, 3 r/u, 5 SF, 13 QF
Martinez' career record 706-287, 33 titles, 1 Slam victory, 2 r/u, 9 SF, 11 QF
Pierce’s career record 469-223, 16 titles, 2 Slam wins, 2 r/u, 0 SF, 7 QF
Sabatini’s career record 632-189, 27 titles, 1 Slam win, 2 r/u, 15 SF, 10 QF

H2H
Sabatini v Martinez 9-6
Sabatini v Novotna 10-3
Sabatini v Pierce 4-1
Novotna v Martinez 4-1
Novotna v Pierce 5-1
Pierce v Martinez 12-6
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Old May 11th, 2005, 12:57 PM   #3
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1. Sabatini - to me, clearly the best of the bunch, I don't think she's looked at highly enough, because she was an underachiever at times
2. Novotna
3. Martinez
4. Pierce - sure she won 2 Slams, but had dozens of miserable losses
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Old May 11th, 2005, 01:32 PM   #4
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First of all, each of these have had a fine career. But all of them were underachievers to some degree. Each of them could've won another slam or two. Still, they're all great players of their era.

Martinez has compiled some great numbers. But she often has shied away in big matches. She's not graceful, but she's strong and moves pretty well. Her strokes aren't that great to look at, but she's got good hands and a good imagination of what to do on the court. Of the 4, it seems that she probably didn't work as hard as the others. And that's why (to me) her lone Wimbledon title isn't enough to rank her higher than the other 3.

Of these four, I think that Pierce was the least likely one that you'd want to play when she's at her best. Mary didn't vary much in her strokes. She only hit hard and then hard-ER. Because her game was so high risk, she's the least consistent and her overall record isn't as impressive as the top two in this group. But that high risk game did win her two slams whereas the others only won one. In the full interest of disclosure, I'm one of those that places heavy, heavy weight on slam records and slams won. Mary only has two; so it's not as significant to me in this case.

Novotna certainly was gifted in speed, movement, and hands. She proved to be an extremely hard worker just about when people were writing her off as another Gigi Fernandez. She's one of the few serve and volleyers that was able to stay around and adjust to the game. By the end of her career, I hesitated to even call her a serve and volleyer because she rarely did so unless she was on grass. She could've done a little more. But I never saw her as a potential winner of 3 or more slams. She'll always have a place in my heart because her game had lots of variety and she was a bright spot in what became sort of a dreary time in tennis. Considering that players do get into the HOF solely because of their doubles record, Jana is the most deserving of these four to enter the Hall.

Gaby outranks all of these players IMO. She has a better winning percentage, a good overall number of titles, was pretty consistent in grand slam events, and she owns the head to head over each of the others. To me, she was in a similar position as Mandlikova in that she was surrounded by top 5 or 8 all time legends. She almost reached number one but pulled up just shy. If I could give her one last shot at a French Open title, I would.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 02:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by preacherfan
How would you rank the careers of Gabriela Sabatini, Jana Novotna, Conchita Martinez, and Mary Pierce? I think the three have many similar results. Jana is obviously headed to the Hall of Fame this year. Her doubles expertise helped her nose ahead of the others for this recognition. Rank them 1-4.

Agree, they were all underachievers but for different reasons: Gaby was IMO the one with the biggest potential but she was a bit lazy. However, she faced the toughest opposition and managed to beat successfully Graf, Evert and Navratilova several times, so deserves numero uno.

Pierce shoul be numero dos; mentally fragile and not the best strategy in the world, but 2 GS titles plus two finals.

I woudl rank Novotna third: apart from Wimbledon, has not done anything spectacular and, if you consider that Pierce had bad losses, Jana ....huum

last, Conchita, I'm a little biased here because I found her quite boring to watch
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Old May 11th, 2005, 03:17 PM   #6
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Gaby definetly gets the top spot. Not only did she compete alongside some of the greatest of all time (Graf, Navratilova, Evert, Seles, Sanchez-Vicario, Mandlikova etc), she beat all of them several times. She handed Graf 11 loses. How many players have beat Steffi more than a handful of times? It is too bad that Gaby was a basketcase when the going got rough in a big, tight match. She should have taken the 1991 Wimbledon for sure, and with all her talent and athletic/shotmaking ability she should have won several more slams during the Graf/Seles era's.

Novotna would also be number two for me. Pretty much the same story as Gaby - full of grace, speed and athleticism - but she didn't compete as much during the '80's. She should have taken both the 1993 and 1997 Wimbledons. Jana had so much talent, but was lacking in the confidence dept.

Even though she bored me to tears, I would put Martinez at number three. She proved that she wasn't just a clay court specialist with her 1994 Wimbledon triumph and was a model of consistency for many years. She beat everyone at least once in her career - the high point being when she stopped a streaking Graf indoors, fall 1993 in straights.

Mary at number 4. Even though she is the only one with two slam titles, she just hasn't consistently competed as well as the other three. Fragile body, as well as psyche. Her obnoxious dismantling of Steffi Graf (on a 4 slam tournament win streak) in the 1994 French semi's remains one of the most shocking matches I have ever seen. Not to mention one of my all time favorites. Looking over Mary's stat's, they just don't add up to the other women's. She has never been a slam semi-finalist and only made 7 quarters. She should have taken that 1994 french final. She came out zoning, carrying the momentum from the Graf match. Then after the rain delay in the first set, it all washed away.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 03:29 PM   #7
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Mark, Pierce's 94 French Open semifinal win over Graf is still stunning 11 years later. That was just one of those days where that big game of hers came together. It was a truly frightening match.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 03:31 PM   #8
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HEY- What's with all the Conchita-phobia?!?!?

Sorry, but I love me some Conchita. I still love what her spins, twizzles and slices do to this day to the young, impressionable WTA starlets (WELCOME to the Conchita world, Angela Haynes.) Granted, Conchita matches against similar players- say, a Conchita vs. Coetzer Wimbledon love fest- could be teeth-grindingly mind numbing. But, put Conchita against the likes of Davenport at the Aussie Open (if Lindsay shows her Aussie Open Conchita matches to her babies, their first word spoken will no doubt be "motherfu**er") and Serena at the U.S. Open- bliss, I tell you all, bliss.

As for rankings- I agree with most here that Gaby and Jana get my top 2 in that order. Then, I go with Mary at No. 3 (2 slams win out for me) and Conchita at No. 4.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 05:01 PM   #9
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I put Conchita at 3 but I don't see much difference in Novotna and Conchita. Conchita actually stayed in the top 5 longer and had the more consistent results. Two things hurt her in my mind. One, she wasn't the most exciting player to watch. Two, her best results came earlier in her career. In her latter 20's, she was overcome largely by the power players. In comparison, Novotna was a better and more consistent player late in her career. Their stats are really similar, but I think people exalt Novotna's career because she finished strongly.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 08:57 PM   #10
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1. Sabatini
2. Novotna
3. Pierce
4. Martinez

I can see putting Martinez at #3, but no higher. I confess the Cheetah used to put me to sleep a lot -until I saw her in person. Only then do her special qualities that give a Lindsay Davenport fits become apparent.

Preacherfan- I really have to disagree with you on Novotna-Martinez

Yes, both have a Wimbledon title. But Jana also has a WTA title. In the head to head department it's not even close. Conchita doesn't have a winning record vs. ANY player of note.

Jana-Conchita 4-1 (In Conchita's defense 4 of 5 meetings indoors)

Jana beat Steffi (4-29) AND Monica more than once-in fact she's 4-4 vs. Monica. That's 8-33 combined comparted to Conchita's combined 2-33.

The final nail in the coffin imo is that Martinez has a losing record vs. the other 3.

Martinez-Sabatini 6-9
-Novotna 1-4
-Pierce 6-12
_____
13-25 total.

Novotna-Sabatini 3-10
-Martinez 4-1
-Pierce 5-1
____
12-12 total.


Hope I'm not dumping on Conchita. They're all fine players.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 09:33 PM   #11
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I saw the Pierce/Martinez Bausch and Lomb final in '98. Pierce was in-form, having beaten Davenport in a dramatic 3 setter the day before. From the beginning of the match, it was apparent that Pierce's play would dictate the outcome. She blasted away at everything. She didn't find her range in the first set and barely lost it. However, her confidence was brimming and she got rolling and killed Conchita the next two sets. Pierce came to the net a huge number of times behind big serves and groundstrokes. It was very successful since her shots usually left Conchita in a totally defensive position.

HanafanGA made a good observation in saying that Pierce is the one of the four that you'd least likely want to play when she's at her best. Only the biggest of hitters could produce enough power to combat Mary when she's on. I love watching Mary play. She has broken my heart a few times by not showing up. It is interesting how few times she got past the QF's of a Slam. Mary is an all or nothing player.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 10:32 PM   #12
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think gabby has to be top of this list down to the fact she was vastly more successful against the premier players of the day, esp graf ( more wins than the other 3 combined) and - i'm guessing - the most slam semis of the 4, another guess is that she prob has more tier 1 titles than the rest

all this from a player who, having arguably played the best tennis on tour the first half of 91 and 92, failed to capture a GS title. in my opinion post wimb 92 gabby was never the same, her whole season for 2 yrs running had built up to the 6 wk period encompassing the french open and wimbledon and the titles eluded her. as a 15 yr old at the time i thought she was getting on!! in retrospect peaked at 21-22 and never truly challenged for the remaining 4 yrs of her career.

novotna i would place at 2, challenged the very best more than pierce and martinez. the latter may have been more consistent throughout her career but coupled with janas doubles record (to me it counts) plus her more exciting style she pips marinez.

as for pierce, she is by far the least consistent of the 4, another guess - the least titles??
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Old May 11th, 2005, 11:43 PM   #13
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From start to finish, I have never seen anything like it. Perhaps Steffi's drumming of Seles in the 1992 Wimbledon final? Mary never left the zone the entire match. It floored me. I wish I had kept the video and not recorded something awful, like Roseanne over it!

Mary should be rated higher out of these four. She was just so inconsistent, week in, week out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HanaFanGA
Mark, Pierce's 94 French Open semifinal win over Graf is still stunning 11 years later. That was just one of those days where that big game of hers came together. It was a truly frightening match.
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Old May 12th, 2005, 01:53 AM   #14
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Another thing about Mary...
I don't think she's as big an underachiever as Conchita or Gaby. Mary has/had serious mobility issues. She's one of the slowest players out there. As much as she worked on fitness and strength, she could never play a defensive game. Even Davenport can/could cover the court better with her long strides and great reach. When challenged to run side to side, Mary has always been in trouble. And each of the big hitters she competed against in her prime (Williamses, Davenport) could match her power and play better defensively. Only Seles had mobility issues like Pierce. Mary had to play a perfect match to beat those above her. She couldn't afford to have many errors, serve poorly or get into long rallies. On those occasions when Mary ran the table on big occasions, she got every ounce out of her ability. On an average day during her career, Mary wasn't going to beat the top five players in the world.

Conchita and Gaby could've done much better and simply didn't work hard enough or believe hard enough.
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Old May 12th, 2005, 09:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by preacherfan
Another thing about Mary...
I don't think she's as big an underachiever as Conchita or Gaby. Mary has/had serious mobility issues. She's one of the slowest players out there. As much as she worked on fitness and strength, she could never play a defensive game. Even Davenport can/could cover the court better with her long strides and great reach. When challenged to run side to side, Mary has always been in trouble. And each of the big hitters she competed against in her prime (Williamses, Davenport) could match her power and play better defensively. Only Seles had mobility issues like Pierce. Mary had to play a perfect match to beat those above her. She couldn't afford to have many errors, serve poorly or get into long rallies. On those occasions when Mary ran the table on big occasions, she got every ounce out of her ability. On an average day during her career, Mary wasn't going to beat the top five players in the world.

Conchita and Gaby could've done much better and simply didn't work hard enough or believe hard enough.
I completely agree annd it's right that she was never quite able to work it out. Seles had mobility issues but great anticipation. Gaby had mobility problems too but not as bad as Pierce.
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