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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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regaining the limelight

posted by LDVTennis:

Thanks for trying, Bandabou, but I was looking for a more probing answer than that.

Let me try to give you an example of what I mean. If someone in '92 had asked me the same questions about Graf, I would have replied that her game had lost some of its mental and physical edge. She was still the best athlete on the tour, but on certain surfaces, and in particular against certain players on specific surfaces, it was becoming more and more the case that she was finding it harder to derive much benefit from that athleticism. On clay, for example, she was finding it more difficult to beat players who played a defensive game against her. When her forehand was on, she could still manage to win the big points, but when it was off it was going to be a long day. Something had to improve in order for Graf to lift her game to another level, either her serve, her forehand (more topspin, more of a rallying shot), her return of serve (specifically on her opponent's second serves), and her tactics (she had to find a way of making her matches, specifically the ones on her least favorite surfaces, into athletic contests).

I am looking for some of the same honesty from Seles' fans. So far, no one has taken up the challenge.

In the meantime, let me say that I'm not asking how Seles and Graf would have matched up if none of the events you cited ever happened. I am asking whether or not the reasonable Seles' fans out there had any doubts about her alleged dominance based on how she was winning her major tournaments, how good of an athlete she was, how big a lead in the rankings system she had, how many Wimbledon Championships she had won, how complete her game was, etc..

Whether Graf was in a slump or not is irrelevant. That's never really been my pet theory any way. Take that up with Calimero. What I want to know is whether the reasonable Seles' fan had any reservations about how good she was?

In general, let me say that it is easy to get caught up in the hype the American tennis media lavishes on an up and coming player, particularly one with a good agent, a good personality, an exotic look, or an American passport. While the hype is at its peak, the player in question can do no wrong. As long as he or she keeps winning, you won't hear anything about his or her pathetic backhand (e.g., Roddick), his or her pathetic training regimen (e.g., Seles), his or her lack of power (e.g., Hingis), his or her pathetic second serve (e.g., Venus), his or her pathetic forehand (e.g., Serena and Venus), or his or her lack of versatility (e.g., Roddick, Seles, Serena, Venus).

Rare is the player whose level of play can keep the limelight burning for more than 3 years. (How long did it take, for instance, for Serena to fall from grace?) When the light goes off, when the player starts losing more than they are winning, only then do we get the kind of honest criticism of a player's game and prospects that we should have received from the beginning. For example, it is not any more true now than it was in '93 that Seles did not have the same body type as Graf. It is also not anymore true now than it was in '99 that Serena's point of contact on her forehand was not consistent.

Of the these three players, Graf, Seles, and Serena, only Graf so far has managed to rekindle the limelight after that light faded the first time, from '92 to '93. Seles' fans will argue that she was only able to regain the limelight because of Seles' absence. I'll concede that from mid-'93 to late '95, that may have made regaining the limelight easier for Graf. But, even after Seles returned to the tour, the limelight remained on Graf. Even with Seles in the mix again, Graf continued to win major tournaments, against Seles and everyone else. Even when Seles was no longer her chief competition, as in '99, Graf still won a major tournament. Her ability to rekindle that limelight is a testament to a game and level of athleticism that rose to a new level after it plateaued, or even deteriorated, from '92 to '93.

Seles had the same opportunity to rekindle the limelight when she returned in late '95. She didn't. Seles' fan, of course, would like us to believe that she had PTSD and that that alone diminished her prospects. This excuse, however, just doesn't ring true with me. It presumes that everything else being equal there were no other impediments from '95 onward to Seles' level of play. It presumes, in fact, that the weaknesses in Seles' game and in her level of athleticism would never have been exposed, either by other players or just from Seles' own process of maturation.

Above all, it presumes, in view of the competition that eventually emerged, that Seles would have improved her game and her body in ways that are technically and genetically improbable. She was never going to be an all court player. She just didn't have the grips to have a good approach shot and good volleys. She was also never going to be faster and a more agile mover on the court. She just didn't have the genetics for that.

If Seles had not been stabbed, I think by '94 we would have seen the media folks turn their forks on her. If there were any benefits to the stabbing for Seles and her fans, it is that the stabbing preempted that criticism. (Where is Helen Lawson when one needs her. She could tell us about how James Dean's death did much the same for him.)

Win or lose, after Seles returned, tennis pundits and fans alike would always have an excuse for why she didn't play as well as she did before. If Seles had not been stabbed, she probably would have met the same fate as all other top players in the history of the sport. They plateau, the competition overtakes them, they lose interest, they get injured, their body changes, they lose their mental edge, etc. Of course, she also would have had the chance to lift her game to another level. I know some Seles' fans will disagree with me. But, I don't think she had another level to give. All of the weaknesses in her game (specifically her grips) and in her body (specifically her lack of speed and muscle to fat ratio), the ones that were already evident in '93, would have prevented her from doing so

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Last edited by bandabou; Sep 16th, 2004 at 10:35 AM.
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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One thing I find curious....we were discussinf the Graf vs Seles problematic in a now closed thread and somehow ldvtennis finds a way to bring up Serena in it...just like he always has to bring up Serena in answering all posts that I make.

How fast it took Serena to fall from grace?! Wow....when she got injured, after already having won two of the years first three majors with her favourite one yet to come up. Besides, someone isnīt giving Serena a fair shot here.

It DID take Steffi at least two years to rekindle the limelight as ldvtennis himself had said and Serena is now just picking up steam.

At least heīs brave enough to admit that the stabbing made regaining the limelight a WHOLE lot easier.

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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bandabou
One thing I find curious....we were discussinf the Graf vs Seles problematic in a now closed thread and somehow ldvtennis finds a way to bring up Serena in it...just like he always has to bring up Serena in answering all posts that I make.

How fast it took Serena to fall from grace?! Wow....when she got injured, after already having won two of the years first three majors with her favourite one yet to come up. Besides, someone isnīt giving Serena a fair shot here.

It DID take Steffi at least two years to rekindle the limelight as ldvtennis himself had said and Serena is now just picking up steam.
and that thread was closed for a reason. maybe also a sign
but go on and bring the hate on again (not you bandabou, you know who I mean)

I can't even understand why I care but maybe it is because I like to be on a messageboard and discuss reasonsable and those constant insults about how somebody sucks and pathologic insults etc. etc. etc. really ruin the fun here and again people can claim go away when you don't like it and maybe I should indeed!

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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irma
and that thread was closed for a reason. maybe also a sign
but go on and bring the hate on again (not you bandabou, you know who I mean)

I can't even understand why I care but maybe it is because I like to be on a messageboard and discuss reasonsable and those constant insults about how somebody sucks and pathologic insults etc. etc. etc. really ruin the fun here and again people can claim go away when you don't like it and maybe I should indeed!
Donīt know who are worse: Over-fanatic Selestials or too cold-blooded Graphites?!

Never ending discussion..but some Graphites have the knack at taking shots at people who arenīt even part of the discussion.

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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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Plus ldv, Serena has already proven that she can beat anybody on any given day on any surface when she is FOCUSED. Only thing that can stop Serena: her focus. Nothing more..

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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bandabou
Donīt know who are worse: Over-fanatic Selestials or too cold-blooded Graphites?!

Never ending discussion..but some Graphites have the knack at taking shots at people who arenīt even part of the discussion.
it's not about who is worse and who not. they even might be the same people
It's about the fact that it is not funny to read constant pathologic insults + deinigrations and in fact these insults are as or even more insulting for Monica too. I know she will never read it, but I serious doubt she would be happy when she did, the opposite probably. You can call that overfanatic. I call it disrespectful!

Why no respect the players and ignore the once you don't like. If they are not as good as those people claim than wouldn't it better to ignore them? (and that counts for all players)

oh and your real point why you made this thread
imho if serena stays fit she will show them next year. serena is probably mad and a mad serena is tough to beat (see 2002, wim 2003)

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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 12:34 PM
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In my opinion, I think the best way to think about this kind of discussion and comparison of champions (which is inevitable in this or any forum) is to think of the tennis player as a muscle. This may seem harsh and carnivorous to some, but to me, the game of tennis is the thing, and I think I've stated often enough on these threads that I am no worshipper of players- Steffi Graf, Serena Williams, Margaret Court, Virginia Wade, Billie Jean King, no one. I love the game of tennis first and foremost, and "focus" (I've always disliked that term, especially when applied to tennis, as it implies that peripheral vision is irrelevant on court, which is a blurred view of the game) on the game is guaranteed to bring reason and intelligent, constructive discussion to the forefront when comparing players.

Steffi Graf's game, as a muscle, can be seen at lithe and elastic, and quite frankly, the benchmark in terms of conditioning, preparation, single-mindedness on achieving the goal, and consistency- all qualities that make the game of tennis a beautiful thing full of timing, and execution. As in every stressed muscle, there was a peak of blood and oxygen flow, followed by a period of contraction and attrition or recovery from muscle inflammation caused by such stress. Her career proved that her muscle tension was quite naturally prepared to rebound, and in hindsight, she got the most out of her game and career. Her game was technically sound, despite the many criticisms of her late forehand or reliance on the slice backhand or high ball toss on the serve or reluctance to finish off points at the net. Her mind and body worked together, and throughout her career, against a wide variety of opportunistic attack, her mind, body, and game weathered and more often than not conquered the storm with an elastic resilience that is incredible.

LDVTennis points out shining examples of players who followed her with less than sound technique, training, or even natural physical ability, who have risen to the top of the game and have fallen off that plateau because of any combination (or lack thereof) of weaknesses in the muscle. The one player I do think might be able to rebound, if she is interested, will be Serena Williams. Yes, her point of contact on the forehand is inconsistent, however, she seems to me to have the same amount of vulnerability on this shot as Graf did on the topspin backhand passing shot- not much if she trains properly and works hard enough on it. Because I want to see more great tennis, I would like to see her rise to this occasion, and will be very disappointed, purely from a tennis standpoint, if she doesn't. I do not think she is capable of achieving the same things that Graf did, only because Graf (that I've seen to date- which is to give nothing but respect to players of the past I have not been able to see) is the best combination of physical gift and mental strength to ever to have played the women's game.

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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irma
it's not about who is worse and who not. they even might be the same people
It's about the fact that it is not funny to read constant pathologic insults + deinigrations and in fact these insults are as or even more insulting for Monica too. I know she will never read it, but I serious doubt she would be happy when she did, the opposite probably. You can call that overfanatic. I call it disrespectful!

Why no respect the players and ignore the once you don't like. If they are not as good as those people claim than wouldn't it better to ignore them? (and that counts for all players)

oh and your real point why you made this thread
imho if serena stays fit she will show them next year. serena is probably mad and a mad serena is tough to beat (see 2002, wim 2003)

Youīre a smart girl Irma and I KNOW you KNOW why I made the thread. You shouldnīt allow them to take shots at your girl like that. I know: Steffi is no.1...but when no.1 isnīt there anymore, you should protect the one next on the list.

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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
In my opinion, I think the best way to think about this kind of discussion and comparison of champions (which is inevitable in this or any forum) is to think of the tennis player as a muscle. This may seem harsh and carnivorous to some, but to me, the game of tennis is the thing, and I think I've stated often enough on these threads that I am no worshipper of players- Steffi Graf, Serena Williams, Margaret Court, Virginia Wade, Billie Jean King, no one. I love the game of tennis first and foremost, and "focus" (I've always disliked that term, especially when applied to tennis, as it implies that peripheral vision is irrelevant on court, which is a blurred view of the game) on the game is guaranteed to bring reason and intelligent, constructive discussion to the forefront when comparing players.

Steffi Graf's game, as a muscle, can be seen at lithe and elastic, and quite frankly, the benchmark in terms of conditioning, preparation, single-mindedness on achieving the goal, and consistency- all qualities that make the game of tennis a beautiful thing full of timing, and execution. As in every stressed muscle, there was a peak of blood and oxygen flow, followed by a period of contraction and attrition or recovery from muscle inflammation caused by such stress. Her career proved that her muscle tension was quite naturally prepared to rebound, and in hindsight, she got the most out of her game and career. Her game was technically sound, despite the many criticisms of her late forehand or reliance on the slice backhand or high ball toss on the serve or reluctance to finish off points at the net. Her mind and body worked together, and throughout her career, against a wide variety of opportunistic attack, her mind, body, and game weathered and more often than not conquered the storm with an elastic resilience that is incredible.

LDVTennis points out shining examples of players who followed her with less than sound technique, training, or even natural physical ability, who have risen to the top of the game and have fallen off that plateau because of any combination (or lack thereof) of weaknesses in the muscle. The one player I do think might be able to rebound, if she is interested, will be Serena Williams. Yes, her point of contact on the forehand is inconsistent, however, she seems to me to have the same amount of vulnerability on this shot as Graf did on the topspin backhand passing shot- not much if she trains properly and works hard enough on it. Because I want to see more great tennis, I would like to see her rise to this occasion, and will be very disappointed, purely from a tennis standpoint, if she doesn't. I do not think she is capable of achieving the same things that Graf did, only because Graf (that I've seen to date- which is to give nothing but respect to players of the past I have not been able to see) is the best combination of physical gift and mental strength to ever to have played the women's game.

Nice thesis, alfa....but there are people who arenīt even giving people a chance to fail. No, theyīre dismissing them even before they had any chance to prove that they can bounce back.

And that ainīt hot, imo.

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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 02:19 PM
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This is an interesting and thought-provoking thread. With regard to the Steffi-Monica question, I'd like to say the following:

1) I feel Steffi was the better player, though I much prefer Monica. This should be borne in mind when reading my other comments.

2) In terms of slam titles/victories, I think it is highly likely that Steffi would not have won the number of slams she did had Monica not been stabbed. Not only did Steffi lose her main rival but she also was freed from the psychological doubts that accompany having another woman out there who is as/more successful as/than you.
For me this applies to the period between RG93 and the end of 1995. I'm not arguing that Steffi wouldn't have won any of those titles, just that, imo, she would not have won as many.

3) Monica was never a great athlete. She had great anticipation, great determination and daring, great strength and was extraordinarily accurate. Steffi was a great athlete and most great athletes in the game of tennis seem to reach their peak in their mid-late 20s. It seems to me that in all probability, the gap between Steffi and Monica which existed in 93 would have narrowed as the years progressed. If Monica had better prepared her return - before and after she started playing- in terms of fitness and conditioning, she may have been able to challenge more successfully. This is Monica's responsibility and cannot be excused/explained away by the stabbing in 93.

4) Both of these women were born "dominators": that is to say they played best when on a roll. Both had periods of dominace when they were clearly head and shoulders above the rest and both have shown that when not dominating they were vulnerable.

It is important to remember that 1996 was the last year in which Graf dominated and the last year in which Seles won a slam. 1997 marked the beginning of the next era, just as 87-88 signalled the beginning of the post Evert-Navratilova era. My hunch is that Monica would have been caught up by Steffi at some point in that period, that we missed some truly epic battles between the two in a period when they may have been fairly evenly matched. Bueno/King versus Court, and Evert versus Navratilova, the other two great rivalries of the past 50 years followed this pattern, too.

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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bandabou
Nice thesis, alfa....but there are people who arenīt even giving people a chance to fail. No, theyīre dismissing them even before they had any chance to prove that they can bounce back.

And that ainīt hot, imo.
There are two ways to fight a fire boo, and both of them have a direct correlation with human existence.

The first is to fight fire with fire- burn areas ahead of the fire and encircle or block it's known path with a patch of no fuel, and the fire dies a quick, painless death. This method is quite often seen as damaging to the countryside and wildlife unnecessarily, however it is the quickest, most concise and direct method to extinguish a percieved burning pain. The drawback to this method is that no man has ever been able to correctly calculate or manage the power contained in the paths of nature.

The second is to allow the fire to run its natural course, and do nothing but move on (in the case of the aboriginal mind, see this as a natural regeneration of the earth which will in the end prove a bright spot in the turning of the wheel of life), and look forward to returning in dreamtime to a more lush and fertile ground, ripe with possibilities and all that is good about this life we share. This is the tidal method that I suggest best suits the subject.

Let it be, and it will come back to you in positive ways unimaginable today.

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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster

Let it be, and it will come back to you in positive ways unimaginable today.
I guess, somebody else told me the same thing this week, but how do you get in the it's like it is fase. cognitive you might know it, but emotional you might feel something else (even when therapists say that it is the same thing since feelings are made by your thoughts according to them)

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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by alfajeffster
There are two ways to fight a fire boo, and both of them have a direct correlation with human existence.

The first is to fight fire with fire- burn areas ahead of the fire and encircle or block it's known path with a patch of no fuel, and the fire dies a quick, painless death. This method is quite often seen as damaging to the countryside and wildlife unnecessarily, however it is the quickest, most concise and direct method to extinguish a percieved burning pain. The drawback to this method is that no man has ever been able to correctly calculate or manage the power contained in the paths of nature.

The second is to allow the fire to run its natural course, and do nothing but move on (in the case of the aboriginal mind, see this as a natural regeneration of the earth which will in the end prove a bright spot in the turning of the wheel of life), and look forward to returning in dreamtime to a more lush and fertile ground, ripe with possibilities and all that is good about this life we share. This is the tidal method that I suggest best suits the subject.

Let it be, and it will come back to you in positive ways unimaginable today.

Hmmm.....I guess youīre right, again, on the matter. I agree with you that the second way is the better one, but sometimes.....you just get carried in the stream of the first one. But Iīm sure time will tell and prove what it has to prove.

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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 03:31 PM
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As a huge Seles fan, I'd like to propose my take on the Seles future if not interrupted by the stabbing incident.

Yes, Monica was dominant in the early 90's up until the stabbing. Steffi could take her out on fast surfaces and challenge her on any surface when she was playing well. However, it wasn't so much the Monica/Steffi rivalry that put distance between them, it was Steffi's losses to other players. Steffi usually played Monica well. Steffi was the greater athlete by far. Monica's mind, return game and power off both sides were incredible. Also, the angle of shot produced by a trim Seles' body were and still are the most incredible angles seen in the women's game. Steffi was beginning to close the gap. Monica wasn't getting weaker, but I felt by the AO '93, Steffi was challenging Monica's supremacy. I have no doubt that Steffi would've again been #1 at some point and maybe held it longer than Monica. But there would've been a fight for the top unlike any seen since that '79-'81 period.

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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 2004, 03:32 PM
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Part Two (for some reason, my computer won't allow long posts)

Monica's greatest weakness would've been her lack of athleticism (even without her time off). As her body matured, those incredible angles would've been harder to hit. Monica would've struggled more and more with quickness as she added a little weight. All of this was magnified by 2 1/2 years off the tour. Monica came back heavier, slower, less confident. To this day, she can probably do as much with a ball within her reach as anyone, but the mobility is an issue. 2 1/2 years was the issue. Could Monica have come back sooner and more healthy? Sure. You let your body slip at all and we all know how hard it is to get it back. But people, we are talking about a teenager who was stabbed in the back. The game evolves. Sometimes technique and fundamentals suffer, but the game gets harder to play because of increased physical training, technology, etc... So Monica left the tour as the hardest hitting lady out there. She returned with Davenport, Pierce, her old rivals and the Williams girls on the way. The game caught up to her.

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