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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 12:12 AM   #16
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Re: Legends

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Originally Posted by rollingraces View Post
The comparision between their rivalries with Graf is also interesting. Sabatini felt like more a thorn in the side of Graf in a way. She beat Graf 7 times out of 8 at one point. Even in 88-89 which was Graf's all time peak of play (along with 95-96) she beat her several times, when nobody else could more than once. She seemed to beat her in more tournaments and finals. Yet it Sanchez who beat and even challenged Steffi far more in slams. Sabatini was something like 1-12 vs Graf in slams, very disappointing, while Sanchez Vicario surprisingly posted 4 wins. Even during the period Sabatini was playing well, Sanchez posted 3 wins to only 1 for Sabatini.
Probably due to me being a massive Arantxa fan, I must disagree. I felt that any time it was Graf vs Sanchez, Graf was expected to win but the outcome was never a given. Whereas Graf vs Sabatini in the big situations always felt like Graf was a given to pull it out.

I think that Sabatini is a bit overrated due to her beauty and her young talent. She had a stupendous career but it was largely due to her success at a young age that she was considered such a tremendous talent. I loved watching her play when she was on, but ultimately I think she just didn't have "it". Sanchez clearly was less publicly loved...She didn't have the looks, the graceful game, or the on court demeanor (let's face it...Arantxa thought she never should have lost a point) that Gabriela had. For me, though, Gabriela seemed boring and almost lacking in individuality, while Arantxa had spunk, confidence, and a smile to go along with it. This can be disputed, though, as both players were described by a couple reporters as being unintelligent and "robot-like".

Either way, the numbers speak for themselves. If Gabriela is a legend, there is no way you can't include Arantxa.

To me I enjoy how both females have continued to blossom after their careers. Both are more beautiful then when they played, and while Arantxa has made negative news with her problems with her family, I feel as though both have found a happiness that they may not have had as tennis players.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 12:20 AM   #17
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Re: Legends

What about that stretch where Sabatini won 7 out of 8 vs Graf. Did you feel Graf was a given to pull it out vs Sabatini in the big situations then?

It is true players that are exceptional at a young age tend to be overrated. Capriati is an example of this. People even today talk about her like she was an all time great talent who should have taken over from Graf and Seles and dominated for years. Some people just naturally reach their apex in talent at a younger age, it doesn't mean they are necessarily more talented. Although in the case of Sanchez vs Sabatini I do think Sabatini was overall more talented. However Sanchez's talents were so extreme in one particular area- she might be the best defensive player in history, that in many ways it probably meant more than Sabatini's more versatile and complete game all put together, even before considering their work ethics and respective mentalities. I do think people underrate her in some sense in that she was the hardest player to put balls past I have ever seen, and that is incredibly hard to oppose, and she did have some offensive capability too (backhand, volleys, even developed a somewhat strong first serve in the mid 90s for awhile).

I think the point of the OP though is that it is more than about your winnings and how great a player you are, but also the intangible factors that make you stylish, loved, remembered. And in that respect I can see how the talented enigmatic Sabatini, who was a great player who would win more than 1 slam in almost any other era (Sanchez would probably even win more than 4 if she were peaking in the era Wozniacki was #1 too BTW); and who is beautiful, stylish, played an interesting and eye pleasing game, and has a huge fan base, would fit that bill.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 12:26 AM   #18
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Re: Legends

One thing that I think goes against Sanchez though is her head to heads vs the best players. Her head to head vs Graf, 8-26 is good, considering Graf is maybe the best ever. However her head to heads vs Seles, 3-17, vs Hingis, 2-18, and vs a very old Navratilova, 3-12, are not good at all for a player of her stature and achievements. Also losing records vs Sabatini, Novotna, and I believe Pierce, all players with only 1 or 2 slams. Those are things that speak to questions of her peak level play vs others, and if she was someone who capatilized greatly, through no fault of her own, of the post Seles stabbing period.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 03:10 AM   #19
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Re: Legends

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(Sanchez would probably even win more than 4 if she were peaking in the era Wozniacki was #1 too BTW)
No. Wozniacki ended number one in 2010 and 2011. I don't see Sanchez playing better than the top players of these years, especially not at slams (Wozniacki didn't even manage to win one).
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 03:58 AM   #20
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Re: Legends

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What about that stretch where Sabatini won 7 out of 8 vs Graf. Did you feel Graf was a given to pull it out vs Sabatini in the big situations then?

It is true players that are exceptional at a young age tend to be overrated. Capriati is an example of this. People even today talk about her like she was an all time great talent who should have taken over from Graf and Seles and dominated for years. Some people just naturally reach their apex in talent at a younger age, it doesn't mean they are necessarily more talented. Although in the case of Sanchez vs Sabatini I do think Sabatini was overall more talented. However Sanchez's talents were so extreme in one particular area- she might be the best defensive player in history, that in many ways it probably meant more than Sabatini's more versatile and complete game all put together, even before considering their work ethics and respective mentalities. I do think people underrate her in some sense in that she was the hardest player to put balls past I have ever seen, and that is incredibly hard to oppose, and she did have some offensive capability too (backhand, volleys, even developed a somewhat strong first serve in the mid 90s for awhile).

I think the point of the OP though is that it is more than about your winnings and how great a player you are, but also the intangible factors that make you stylish, loved, remembered. And in that respect I can see how the talented enigmatic Sabatini, who was a great player who would win more than 1 slam in almost any other era (Sanchez would probably even win more than 4 if she were peaking in the era Wozniacki was #1 too BTW); and who is beautiful, stylish, played an interesting and eye pleasing game, and has a huge fan base, would fit that bill.

I agree that Gabriela underachieved and in a different era could have been more successful. Ultimately, though, her mentality held her back at some point.

Again, I admit to having a large bias towards Sanchez-Vicario, but I just find it hard to agree to the fact that Gabriela was the better player or the more "talented" player. It is hard to argue against a player who won 4 slams vs a player who won 1, but when you add in the fact that Arantxa was RUP in 8 other slams, while Gabby was runner-up in only 2 other slams, I just don't see how that argument fits.

You said it yourself that Sabatini only had 1 slam win vs Graf. Simply put, when the pressure was on, you knew who could perform and who couldn't.

I didn't realize Gabriela won 7/8 against Graf. Very impressive...but also shows her ability to beat Graf was limited to a small time frame. Still, though, other than a tour championship victory, the one match that Sabatini lost in those 8 was their only grandslam meeting. My memory may be flawed, but I don't ever remember past 90 thinking Sabatini might beat Graf at a slam. Again, bias may very well be playing a part in this.

As for the winning H2H against Arantxa, it was 12-11 and Gabriella won the first 7. Granted Gabby was past her peak when Arantxa won the last 4, but still, I don't know how much can be read in to their H2H since they both had their own different peak times.

Either way, I miss both players. As you said Arantxa was one of the best defensive players of all times and Gabriela was stylish and clearly underachieved.

As for 2010 and 2011 when Caroline Wozniacki was number one...in 2010 Vera Zvonereva was #2 in the race. Both Sabatini and Sanchez were considerably more talented then either of those players. Schiavone was #6 and the French Open champion...both Sabatini and Sanchez would have pulverized her on the clay of Roland Garros.

2011 wasn't much different...Na Li could not out compete Arantxa and Gabriela at a French Open, and again Francesca made her way to the final of that slam.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 04:23 AM   #21
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Re: Legends

Well I don't think the more accomplished player is always the more talented on. I don't think Djokovic is more talented than Safin to come up with a similar example. It is not Aranxta's fault and she fully earned all her success, but peaking in 93-96 is a heck of a lot better for your chances than peaking in 88-92 when Gaby did. I really don't think if ASV had her peak in 88-92 instead she would have ever won 4 slams. Maybe 2 (atleast 1 given that she won the 89 French anyway). Either way Sanchez did a far better job maximizing her potential than Sabatini did, for a lot of possible reasons (mental strength, work ethic, recognizing and willingness to make the needed changes, delivering at the right moments) but it doesn't show beyond a doubt the talent gap is in her favor.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 04:26 AM   #22
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Re: Legends

Either Sanchez Vicario or Sabatini in their primes would have won every single French Open from 2008-2012 probably. Only Serena this year, with her improved clay court game combined with her massive power and athleticsm, could have gotten them. Either one would probably win about 8 slams (presuming it was only one of them put in this era) had their prime been 2008-2013. I have doubts about either beating Serena (especialy off of clay) and there would be a few other challengers when in form (Mommy Clijsters, Erratic Na in her peak form events, Azarenka last 2 years, Kvitova on grass/carpet maybe) but overall when Serena wasn't winning it would be pretty open.

Wozniacki is a total joke in tennis ability compared to either one. Her ending two years at #1 will forever be a dark hole in the womens game history.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 04:32 AM   #23
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Re: Legends

As for Graf vs Sabatini in slams, Graf and Sabatini only played once in slams during his streak of Sabatini's. It was at Wimbledon 1991 and I remember a lot picking Sabatini to win that match. I don't know if you remember that occasion well (Gaby was on a 5 match win streak over Graf at the time, and had won 6 of the last 8, including their last slam meeting at the U.S Open final) and your feelings going into the match. Of course grass is Graf's best surface, so Gaby wasn't as much a favorite going in as she would otherwise would be given their recent history. Their next slam meeting did not come until Wimbledon 92, and by then Graf had already begun to turn around the rivalry, and was favored.

Actually I do see your point in that Wimbledon 91 is the only time going into the match you felt Gaby had a good shot to win. In their early years you always felt Graf was going to win when it really mattered, as she always seemed to come up big in the clutch situations better than Gabby. Going into the 90 U.S Open final nobody thought Gabby would win, and 93 onwards nobody did either. So in that sense I see your point.

As for Sanchez the matches going in you thought she had a fighting chance to win were late 94-96, although by 96 that feeling was dwindling.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 04:59 AM   #24
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Re: Legends

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As for 2010 and 2011 when Caroline Wozniacki was number one...in 2010 Vera Zvonereva was #2 in the race. Both Sabatini and Sanchez were considerably more talented then either of those players. Schiavone was #6 and the French Open champion...both Sabatini and Sanchez would have pulverized her on the clay of Roland Garros.

2011 wasn't much different...Na Li could not out compete Arantxa and Gabriela at a French Open, and again Francesca made her way to the final of that slam.
No way. It's amazing one can write that, sincerely! Zvonareva and Schiavone would have defeated Sanchez and Sabatini in 2010, Schiavone could have even defeated Graf on clay. Not to speak of Li Na!

I see some of you are clearly biaised to the champions on an era, and totally underrating the ones that follow. You can't compare eras that way.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 05:12 AM   #25
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Re: Legends

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No way. It's amazing one can write that, sincerely! Zvonareva and Schiavone would have defeated Sanchez and Sabatini in 2010, Schiavone could have even defeated Graf on clay. Not to speak of Li Na!

I see some of you are clearly biaised to the champions on an era, and totally underrating the ones that follow. You can't compare eras that way.
Schiavone could have beaten a 44 year old Graf today you mean? Perhaps, but even then I doubt.

What on earth would Zvonareva or Schiavone do against Sanchez or Sabatini? They cant overpower them, cant outrun them, cant outmaneuver them, certainly could never outgrind them. Na Li playing her A+ game, hitting the lines, and not folding mentally against a great defensive and strong offensive player who doesn't fold mentally (good luck with that) would be the only one of those you mentioned who would even stand a chance, and more likely on a hard court than clay.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 06:35 AM   #26
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Re: Legends

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Schiavone could have beaten a 44 year old Graf today you mean? Perhaps, but even then I doubt.

What on earth would Zvonareva or Schiavone do against Sanchez or Sabatini? They cant overpower them, cant outrun them, cant outmaneuver them, certainly could never outgrind them. Na Li playing her A+ game, hitting the lines, and not folding mentally against a great defensive and strong offensive player who doesn't fold mentally (good luck with that) would be the only one of those you mentioned who would even stand a chance, and more likely on a hard court than clay.
First, Zvonareva would have clearly overpowered Sanchez and Sabatini. The latters were more slow and were hitting the ball less harder. You really should watch more matches involving Zvonareva and Schiavone again. It's silly to think the top players of the 90's would dominate the top players of 2010, as if the sport hadn't evolved over twenty years? It's not a question of talent at this point, but a matter of level the competition reached over the years. And it's not even my logic of evolution speaking here, but only the fact that I've actually watched all those players play, and couldn't miss how the players played harder and faster over the years. Schiavone AMAZED me in 2010. The way she played in 2010 was far above the way Sanchez played in 1994. What is deeply wrong is the logic of comparing their ranks and their career results, whereas the tour and level of the tour wasn't the same! See also a match between Schiavone and Williams in 2010 at the UO: it's on another level of play than anything from the 90's.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 12:30 PM   #27
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Re: Legends

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First, Zvonareva would have clearly overpowered Sanchez and Sabatini. The latters were more slow and were hitting the ball less harder. You really should watch more matches involving Zvonareva and Schiavone again. It's silly to think the top players of the 90's would dominate the top players of 2010, as if the sport hadn't evolved over twenty years? It's not a question of talent at this point, but a matter of level the competition reached over the years. And it's not even my logic of evolution speaking here, but only the fact that I've actually watched all those players play, and couldn't miss how the players played harder and faster over the years. Schiavone AMAZED me in 2010. The way she played in 2010 was far above the way Sanchez played in 1994. What is deeply wrong is the logic of comparing their ranks and their career results, whereas the tour and level of the tour wasn't the same! See also a match between Schiavone and Williams in 2010 at the UO: it's on another level of play than anything from the 90's.
Arantxa won her last slam in 98 at RG, only 12 years before Schiavone won her slam. Arantxa was past her prime at that point. Serena won her first slam the following year and still is winning slams today. I can't see why Arantxa, at her prime, wouldn't have been able to win the French Open from 2008-2010, the clay game definitely hadn't evolved much, and the game in general hadn't evolved as much as you act like. Schiavone was turning 30 the year she won the French...and had not been a top 10 player at any point in her career. I love Francesca, but her win as the result of there being NO ONE who can truly play on clay in the game at that point.

Wozniacki and Errani have shown that you don't have to overpower to get to a high ranking today. Now competing for slams is another thing, but both have come close at times, and IMO, neither possesses the plethora of shots that Arantxa and especially Gabriella possessed. Neither of those two players possess the mental grit that Arantxa had either.

I do think it would be very tough for Arantxa and Gabriela to have beaten Serena other than on Serena's off days. I think Kim Clijsters would have caused Arantxa fits as well. Azarenka would be a tough match-up too.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 05:23 PM   #28
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Re: Legends

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Arantxa won her last slam in 98 at RG, only 12 years before Schiavone won her slam. Arantxa was past her prime at that point. Serena won her first slam the following year and still is winning slams today. I can't see why Arantxa, at her prime, wouldn't have been able to win the French Open from 2008-2010, the clay game definitely hadn't evolved much, and the game in general hadn't evolved as much as you act like. Schiavone was turning 30 the year she won the French...and had not been a top 10 player at any point in her career. I love Francesca, but her win as the result of there being NO ONE who can truly play on clay in the game at that point.

Wozniacki and Errani have shown that you don't have to overpower to get to a high ranking today. Now competing for slams is another thing, but both have come close at times, and IMO, neither possesses the plethora of shots that Arantxa and especially Gabriella possessed. Neither of those two players possess the mental grit that Arantxa had either.

I do think it would be very tough for Arantxa and Gabriela to have beaten Serena other than on Serena's off days. I think Kim Clijsters would have caused Arantxa fits as well. Azarenka would be a tough match-up too.
Arantxa wasn't more past her prime in 1998 than Graf in 1999. Those players played their best to win their last title at the French. Serena is also playing better than before, at least to stay consistent as a number one player, and is especially better on clay now. Schiavone obviously played better in 2010 than before, she was a late bloomer - the late-blooming case is growing on the tour, keep an eye on Safarova. You cannot just underrate the value of Francesca's run at a slam from observing her rank or her side results. One had to watch or has to watch again.

I don't buy the supposed weak years of 2008-2010. It's absurd to think the tour was less tough after Henin retired, as if Henin was playing alone? She actually had to fight as hell. Players are constantly challenged to do their best, to keep doing better, and keep learning. That's where my logic comes from: I don't see how a tour can get weaker or even stagnate.

I certainly thrill each time I see Gabriela play that Wimbledon final she lost by a thread to Steffi. What a beautiful player she was! But I don't think you have "legends" that could dominate any era for that matter. It's in deep contradiction with my love for the sport actually.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2013, 11:44 PM   #29
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Re: Legends

Gaby probably played the heaviest topspin female tennis have ever witnessed. ASV was also a topspin specialist with a fighting spirit compared to her current male compatriots, How on earth they can lose to Schiavone and Zvonareva on clay?
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 12:16 AM   #30
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Re: Legends

Steffi Graf struggled to hit winners vs Sanchez on clay which is why she had a hard time beating her on clay always. How on earth would a B- power hitter like Vera hit through Sanchez?
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