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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 12:21 PM   #361
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

I always loved watching Evert play. She was so focused and she controlled her emotions brilliantly and her baseline game was very tough to beat. In the early 70s I think she mostly just used the strategy of keeping the ball in play until her opponent made the error unless she was really pushed to be more aggressive but as she had to start facing the likes of Navratilova and Austin she realized she really had no choice but to be more aggressive and go for her shots more often and take more chances, rather than play conservatively.

She also had excellent anticipation as well as the ability to always find what an opponent's weakness was and exploit it to the hilt. I always thought she underrated herself as an athlete because she had wonderful shotmaking ability which does take athleticism to do. Evert's greatest strength though was always her mind and it's what made her a champion. I do have to say that in the mid 80s she was in better physical shape than she ever had been which helped her to catch up to Navratilova and win the French in '85 and '86.
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 01:30 PM   #362
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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In the early 70s I think she mostly just used the strategy of keeping the ball in play until her opponent made the error unless she was really pushed to be more aggressive but as she had to start facing the likes of Navratilova and Austin she realized she really had no choice but to be more aggressive and go for her shots more often and take more chances, rather than play conservatively.

This too is how I often think of Evert. Especially now going from memory of matches from the 70's that are so far in the past from when I originally saw them. But then more recently, I've gotten a chance to see a few matches again from back then, and Chris was often more aggressive than I remember. Instead of just waiting for an opponents miss, she hit with more and more angle until often her opponent was forced into a miss in my humble opinion.

The most recent match that I saw that surprised me in retrospect, was the 1976 YEC from Los Angeles between Chris and Evonne. Even though Chris lost, she didn't go down easy. She was even hitting decent overheads (in my memory, I always think of Chris as not having a good putaway overhead, but she did really well in that match).

I'd like to see the Wimbledon semi from 1975 to remind myself of how she played against Billie Jean on grass (I haven't seen that one since 1975!). Chris as I recall, had that first set on grass against BJK (to my surprise), but then fell apart sometime in the second (she claimed in her autobio of course that it was due to seeing Jimmy with the actress -- which he jokingly concurred during some doubles event 8 years later), and did not get that first win against Billie on 1975 Wimbie grass. I'd really, really like to see that one, because I suspect (I can't remember) that Chris must have begun the match playing aggressively in order to counter against the usually always attacking Billie on grass.

I too loved when Chris got more aggressive overall (developing more of an all court game -- including venturing to net). As I've written, even though the Queen suffered some drops in concentration and therefore some bad losses, I love watching Chris battle in the years 1987 - 1989. Chris was quoted later in her career that she no longer had the patience to stand back in hit moonball after moonball, and I always loved seeing her move up for the volleys at net.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Chris had gotten more confidence in her volley earlier in her life, even though I know that backcourt counter attacking was part of her "personality." Still, she could be a good volleyer (contrary to what is often written), especially later when she learned more how to put that sucker away.
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 01:56 PM   #363
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Chris had gotten more confidence in her volley earlier in her life, even though I know that backcourt counter attacking was part of her "personality." Still, she could be a good volleyer (contrary to what is often written), especially later when she learned more how to put that sucker away.
Looking back at it now, Chris got to the net more often in those days than she's given credit for IMO. She just didn't venture there very often in comparison to most other players in those days because many of them were serve and volleyers. But if you take for example Chris' match against Evonne in the Wimbledon final of 1976, she went to the net more often than almost any baseliner does in todays game. And although she was never a natural volleyer, she was more than adequate and seldom missed any.
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 02:49 PM   #364
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

In response to the discussion about Chris downplaying her achievements and level of play, Chris has been very self-disparaging about her accomplishments. She's clearly indicated her pride in the clay court streak and her consistency in the grand slams and overall, but she always give the nod to other players as having been/or are better, greater. Honestly, there have been times since she retired that it seemed as if Evert felt she might have been a good top 20 player in today's game.

Of course, she may be right! In the same way that some of today's start might have been a good top 20 player had they played in earlier years with different equipment, training, bodies, etc. Who knows?

Ultimately, you have to measure greatness on achievements. And even that's debateable, given the many variables that come or do not come into play. Today, it's all about grand slams and everyone plays them if they can. In the grand scheme of things, that's a relatively new deveopment. People used to skip grand slams the way some people skip a meal. Oh, I'll pick up something else later! And then, of course, those who think grand slams are the be-all, end-all of tennis, quickly jump to criticize Margaret Court's grand slam record because half of her titles came at the Australian Open, which was really a grand slam in name only.

At the end of the day, Evert belongs among the top four all-time greats in my opinion: with Martina N., Margaret Court and Steffi (Where were you Monica) Graf. Oops, wait! I think I inserted yet another variabe into the conversation, and we surely don't want to go there!
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 04:50 PM   #365
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

I've always admired Chris' objective eye about her own success relative to her accomplishments. I think that has a lot to do with her father. By all accounts Jimmy Evert was/is an incredibly humble man who still charged the same fee and worked seven days a week at the same public courts even after his daughter became one of the all time greats (apparantly he finally raised his fee to something like $12/hour after much coercion from his children). I don't think Jimmy Evert's influence over his daughter can ever be underestimated and her refusal to toot her own horn about her accomplishments seems to be rooted in her father's own behavior. I've always admired Chris' more realistic view of her own skills especially in relation to other former champions who seem to be a bit on the delsuional side (Yes, you were an amazing athlete with tons of talent Martina but I wouldn't want you serving at 5-6 30-40 in the 3rd of a Grand Slam Final if I had a lot of money riding on it). The problem with Chris is that she doesn't seem to appreciate her own mental gifts and see that they are of equal merit with any sort of physical gifts a great champion might have. Chris' innate understanding of what to do at all times and ability to "think outside of the box" within the frame of a point are really beautiful to see. Her gifts for point construction are unmatched IMHO.

Chris' I think also suffers from being "raised" on the women's tour a baseliner in a sea of serve and vollyers. I think Chris bought into the perception that the "real" athletes were serve and vollyers and that baseliners were somehow "less than" as players because winning a point from the baseline was somehow cheaper than "earning" the point from the net. If you read Chris' quotes throughout her career there is never a point where she doesn't seem to give deferential to the game's of Goolagong, King and then later Navratilova. These things, I think were ingrained in Chris and have never really left. That being said Chris had a huge ego as all the greats did, but I think that was situational, i.e. within the context of a particular match or a particular quote by someone else but not in the larger scheme of things.

And maybe this is just babble on my part, but I think Chris has played no small part in the perception that she is a few steps behind Graf, Navratilova and Court as an All Time Great.
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 05:19 PM   #366
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

Had Chris impoved her ability to locate her serves with movement, she still would have been a top 10 player right now. With the players like Dementieva, Henin, Sharapova, Williams sisters, Petrova, and Chakvatadze, they will kill a weak serve.
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 06:07 PM   #367
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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Had Chris impoved her ability to locate her serves with movement, she still would have been a top 10 player right now. With the players like Dementieva, Henin, Sharapova, Williams sisters, Petrova, and Chakvatadze, they will kill a weak serve.
Chris playing today would have been like Hingis IMO, but probably better because she was mentally stronger.
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 08:08 PM   #368
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

IMHO, I don't think that the physical element should even be brought into the equation when comparing champions from different eras. Yes, for some it played more of a role than others, i.e. Navratilova, Serena Williams, but I don't think that the physical is what made them champions. I think it's between the ears.

One may argue that Navratilova's success was based on her physical fitness, I would respectfully disagree with this and state that it was, in fact, what her physical condition did for her mentally, i.e. her confidence. Martina wasn't any less fit in '85 when she lost five matches during the year than in '83 when she lost one match, rather her confidence level had dropped as Evert's rose, this began the previous year at Wimby and the U.S. Open when Chrissie played her tough and came to realize that she COULD beat her. Which is why I would argue that for the most part if you put the mind of a great player of any era into the body of a top player (top 10-ish maybe top 20-ish caliber) and that player would win just as much as they did in their own period of dominance.
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 09:56 PM   #369
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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Chris playing today would have been like Hingis IMO, but probably better because she was mentally stronger.
My point is that Chris stopped herself from getting better. She had all the tolls. She was like the Zenith Spacecraft TV with all the capabilities that you see on the internet but Chris stuck to three channels and made the adjustment to cable.
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 01:06 AM   #370
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

Hate to do battle with (and burst any bubbles of) historical perception, but this idea that chris was not a good volleyer, but improved in the mid-80s is so silly. yes, she consciously made an attempt to venture into net in certain matches where she thought the element of surprise would serve her well to mix things up (she didnt want martina to be able to sit & place BETS on where at the baseline chris would be standing, to be sure), and its true, she did work a lot on getting 'softer hands' at net, but she often made those cutesy sit-up volleys due to this that lost her a lot of points, whereas a late 70s or early 80s chris would have slapped those away for immediate winners.

chris was not as COMFORTABLE at net earlier in her career, because she didnt spend a lot of time in practice on it, and standing inside that part of the court, but evert always benefitted from an enormous gift of tennis instinct; and in that, i believe, she was a more aggressive, effective volleyer in that earlier half of her career, than after she was forced to make the whole process more conscious! So too, in her mind, she became a 'better volleyer' but I would say she just became more aware of what it was that she was doing up there, and there is a difference.

With her instinctual side left unhindered as she ruled the top of the game, she seldom missed a volley and she was just SO confident. Never in those mid to late 80s matches did she ever again have such a disdainful confidence to smack a winner away from anywhere on the court. She hit, in the mid 70s, fantastic forceful overheads at angles of precision you never saw her attempt later on. She became much more...pragmatic...and maybe technically competent, but if it was a high pressure moment in a match, i'd still rather "give the ball" to a younger evert to close out the point.

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Old Aug 21st, 2007, 06:18 AM   #371
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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This too is how I often think of Evert. Especially now going from memory of matches from the 70's that are so far in the past from when I originally saw them. But then more recently, I've gotten a chance to see a few matches again from back then, and Chris was often more aggressive than I remember. Instead of just waiting for an opponents miss, she hit with more and more angle until often her opponent was forced into a miss in my humble opinion.

The most recent match that I saw that surprised me in retrospect, was the 1976 YEC from Los Angeles between Chris and Evonne. Even though Chris lost, she didn't go down easy. She was even hitting decent overheads (in my memory, I always think of Chris as not having a good putaway overhead, but she did really well in that match).

I'd like to see the Wimbledon semi from 1975 to remind myself of how she played against Billie Jean on grass (I haven't seen that one since 1975!). Chris as I recall, had that first set on grass against BJK (to my surprise), but then fell apart sometime in the second (she claimed in her autobio of course that it was due to seeing Jimmy with the actress -- which he jokingly concurred during some doubles event 8 years later), and did not get that first win against Billie on 1975 Wimbie grass. I'd really, really like to see that one, because I suspect (I can't remember) that Chris must have begun the match playing aggressively in order to counter against the usually always attacking Billie on grass.

I too loved when Chris got more aggressive overall (developing more of an all court game -- including venturing to net). As I've written, even though the Queen suffered some drops in concentration and therefore some bad losses, I love watching Chris battle in the years 1987 - 1989. Chris was quoted later in her career that she no longer had the patience to stand back in hit moonball after moonball, and I always loved seeing her move up for the volleys at net.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Chris had gotten more confidence in her volley earlier in her life, even though I know that backcourt counter attacking was part of her "personality." Still, she could be a good volleyer (contrary to what is often written), especially later when she learned more how to put that sucker away.


A prime example of what you are referring to is the AO final of '88. In the tiebreak, Chris lost patience after an extended rally where she was slowly pushing Graf further and further to Steffi's backhand side and then she suddenly tried to come to the net and put away a volley but Graf made her hit a very tough half volley which Chris then dumped into the net and the look on Evert's face tells the whole story. She knew she should have been more patient and waited for a better opportunity but she didn't and as a result the tiebreak slipped away and Graf won the match. The way Evert played that 2nd set, she should have won it and a younger, much more patient Evert definitely would have.
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Old Aug 21st, 2007, 10:09 PM   #372
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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A prime example of what you are referring to is the AO final of '88. In the tiebreak, Chris lost patience after an extended rally where she was slowly pushing Graf further and further to Steffi's backhand side and then she suddenly tried to come to the net and put away a volley but Graf made her hit a very tough half volley which Chris then dumped into the net and the look on Evert's face tells the whole story. She knew she should have been more patient and waited for a better opportunity but she didn't and as a result the tiebreak slipped away and Graf won the match. The way Evert played that 2nd set, she should have won it and a younger, much more patient Evert definitely would have.

Yes, but Steffi was very strong on the baseline and Chris got tired just a touch of coming back from so far behind.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 01:14 AM   #373
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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Yes, but Steffi was very strong on the baseline and Chris got tired just a touch of coming back from so far behind.
A pity that the middle part of that match was played indoors. Not saying that Chris otherwise would have won, but it clearly affected her play in a negative way.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 01:23 PM   #374
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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A pity that the middle part of that match was played indoors. Not saying that Chris otherwise would have won, but it clearly affected her play in a negative way.
One thing that Steffi forced you to do was that you either had to have a great serve or be willing to grind all day for three sets because Steffi was 5'9 by then and strong as a bull. She was fitting Richard Williams description "as a thoroughbred playing against mules".
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Old Aug 23rd, 2007, 12:50 AM   #375
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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I've always admired Chris' objective eye about her own success relative to her accomplishments....I don't think Jimmy Evert's influence over his daughter can ever be underestimated and her refusal to toot her own horn.

The problem with Chris is that she doesn't seem to appreciate her own mental gifts and see that they are of equal merit with any sort of physical gifts a great champion might have.

If you read Chris' quotes throughout her career there is never a point where she doesn't seem to give deferential to the game's of Goolagong, King and then later Navratilova.
I think Chris has played no small part in the perception that she is a few steps behind Graf, Navratilova and Court as an All Time Great.
these are all great points, pammy - but i can tell you chris is, more than the other three players you mention at the 'top', entirely not invested in competing for the throne 30 years after the fact. She feels like her accomplishments do speak for themselves, people will think what they want no matter what she says, and she wins a certain battle by NOT clawing for the final remains on the table. AS ALWAYS, her take is 'I let my tennis do the talking' ... and by NOT being vested in proving her value in the past, she makes a pretty good statement about moving on to the now. If you quiz all 4 of these ladies on feats in their career, chris is by far the most likely to mis-remember the details.

I'll share something steve flink said to me on this topic: "Being in the moment is what made chris so incredible. Not the past or the future, but the moment. She just does not live in the past."

i can also promise you however that she DOES know she can be considered the best under certain lenses. But the male-based sports establishment is what is so daunting in this and its THEY who value the athleticism over the mental. She's not going to say, "The mental is really what it all comes down to" and then have these guys say, "sure, that suits her story, because maybe then she'd be number 1"...she wouldnt give them the pleasure. It is just too much of an uphill battle, and would only be worth entering into if she gave a flying fig. And she doesnt. Legacy is secured. Period. so she plays the grace card everytime.

like you said, she'll say how great goolagong & king's games are---and yes, she really does admire them, ESPECIALLY because they are different from her...and in some ways, even foreign. But only the way a singer admires a guitarist or a guitarist admires a singer: she wouldnt trade the way she did things for the way they did, and she certainly knows she was the better player among those 2. Thats WHY she is so willing to share that light at the top.

with that said, I wish she hadnt remarked about "maybe being in the top 20" nowadays...I go from good authority that she doesnt believe it. but i guess she just wishes everyone would stop being so invested in it, and let things be what they are. This 'who is #1' debate-- in addition to being impossible to answer or calculate-- misses the point and values the wrong aspects of what mattered: the mental/emotional impression of the players impact and artistry, over the physical result of numbers and stats. And in that, its actually here that chris' stance is truest to her ideals as she played them out on the tennis court.

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