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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 2004, 02:46 AM Thread Starter
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Martina and Steffi

Does anyone think that Martina was scared to play Steffi? In 1987 thur 1990



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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 2004, 02:50 AM
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Uh, yeah.
1988-89, at least.
As debbiefoy would say, 'Death grin lady'.

Luckily, she got over it in Sept 1991.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 2004, 05:05 AM
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I wouldn't say she was afraid. Martina might have been a little selective about what surface she tried to challenge Graf on from time to time-but then again she was that way often in her career-

And in 1987 she played the Italian on red clay-she deserves credit for that. Any "dodging" would have been later than 1987.

We could turn the question around and ask if Steffi was afraid of Martina on grass-she didn't play Oz on grass at all in 1985 through 1987.

In both cases I think it comes down to pacing and surface. A smart player takes breaks-and it's natural to take breaks to avoid your weakest surface.

Chris Evert was an artful dodger for many years!
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 2004, 05:06 AM
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I almost forgot-welcome to the Blast GRene
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 2004, 05:37 AM
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I don't think players are scared at least not the players who were/are on top. I think they more see it as a challenge to improve and get better but that sometimes takes time. Definitely certain players get more nervous when they have to close out a match, especially when somebody has a mental edge over them but I doubt they are already scared beforehand because then you can better stay home or not?

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 2004, 04:31 PM
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No, I don't think she was "scared" to play Graf. I think they enjoyed playing one another and motivated one another to some extent. I think Martina may have been apprehensive about playing Graf in '87 as Martina was #1 and Graf was the obvious challenger. From '88 onwards Graf was obviously #1 so I don't feel Martina had any reason to be scared of her.

I also feel it was good in many ways that rivalries such as Graf-Navratilova, Seles-Graf were not week in week out rivalries - it always meant that when they did play it became a huge, nervewracking occasion.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 2004, 05:42 PM
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 2004, 07:54 PM
 
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Martina doesn't strike me as the type to get scared easily.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 2004, 10:30 PM
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Martina was not the kind of person to be scared. She was the kind of person who from time to time could psych herself out or sabotage herself mentally.

Martina was very fortunate to find people like R. Richards and BJK, both of them convinced her to believe in herself.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 19th, 2004, 02:21 AM
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Honestly, I felt like Martina was a bit frightened of Steffi in 1988 + 1989. In the 1988 Wimbledon final there was a key moment when the match turned around with Martina leading, something like 6-2, 2-0...a commanding lead for MN on grass vs. anyone. Steffi seemed infuriated by her own play and she slapped a ball against the back court. I think she won the next 12 out 13 games. To me Martina looked terrified. Perhaps terrified of both winning and losing. I am not sure. Certainly Graf raised the level of her game, but no one should beat Martina like that on grass. The next year at both Wimbledon and the US Open Martina still had that same frightened look on her face in the third set...except this time she was trying to mask it with an uneasy grin. When they finally met up again in the 1991 US semi, Graf's aura had lost much of it's lustre and Martina looked herself again. But in 88-89, she looked scared.

Perhaps it was just me transfering my emotions, cause lord knows Steffi scared the crap outta me those two years. I desperately wanted Martina to take at least one of those titles.

I never saw the Slims finale in 1989. Was she working that Death Grin there, as well?
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 19th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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Somewhere on these threads, there's a long discussion between Alfajeffster and myself on this subject. Basically, I don't think there's any evidence that Martina actively avoided Steffi during the period mentioned. Most of the time, she didn't get to play Steffi because she (or occasionally Steffi) went out early.

On the other hand, it's clear that Martina was not confident playing Steffi during that time: twice in their three matches, she was up a set and a break only to lose and in the 89 Wimbledon final she almost blew a 5-2 lead in the second set. Steffi's performance in the 88 Wimbledon final was awesome and Martina was not playing anywhere near well enough to stay with her once she broke free but at the 89 US Open Martina could have won.

Were it not for the fact that Martina incurred unexpected losses to other players during this time, you could zargue that dshe was scared of Steffi but I would go with the argument that she had lost that swagger which she had during her invincible period and was vulnerable to on-form players period.

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Last edited by Andy T; Oct 19th, 2004 at 06:03 AM.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 19th, 2004, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy T
Somewhere on these threads, there's a long discussion between Alfajeffster and myself on this subject. Basically, I don't think there's any evidence that Martina actively avoided Steffi during the period mentioned. Most of the time, she didn't get to play Steffi because she (or occasionally Steffi) went out early.

On the other hand, it's clear that Martina was not confident playing Steffi during that time: twice in their three matches, she was up a set and a break only to lose and in the 89 Wimbledon final she almost blew a 5-2 lead in the second set. Steffi's performance in the 88 Wimbledon final was awesome and Martina was not playing anywhere near well enough to stay with her once she broke free but at the 89 US Open Martina could have won.

Were it not for the fact that Martina incurred unexpected losses to other players during this time, you could zargue that dshe was scared of Steffi but I would go with the argument that she had lost that swagger which she had during her invincible period and was vulnerable to on-form players period.
I was hoping you'd chime in on this one, Andy- and I remember both our discussions on this in person, and your very effective research presented in that thread on Martina's schedule during the period 1989-1994, coupled with her knee injuries/rehabilitation, and basically a great woman nearing the end of her singles playing days selectively prioritizing her schedule to conform to the reality that it all must some day come to an end (in singles). I remember Martina being interviewed after her 1990 Wimbledon win, where she stated what she and Billie Jean discussed after losing to Graf the year before, basically stating that BJK told her "okay, 365 days to go until your next match". There was a twinge of fear in that assessment, in that she was very concerned mentally about whether or not her body would hold up, and I am very sure (although admittedly, it's based on assumption), that she was very glad that Zina Garrison took Steffi out before she had to play that final again.

Martina Navratilova, probably more than any other opponent Graf faced throughout her career, knew how to beat Steffi. People forget just how grafic (pun intended) the mapped strategy was- attack the backhand at all cost, and force her into errors off that side. Simple strategy, complicated somewhat by the fact that in Graf, even more so than Evert (only slightly, daze, but still, more so), Navratilova had the most determined baseliner she had ever seen (Seles was yet to come), and someone who could match her attack with a more than ample attack of her own with a complimentary strategy- a simple one at that. There were very few surprises between them when they did meet, and that made the rare occasions when they did between 89-94 electric. I still think the best match they ever played was the 1989 Virginia Slims Championships Final. It could be argued that by that time Martina wasn't as sharp or focused, but if you watch the match again, you'll see that she executed very well, on one of her favorite surfaces, and was simply beaten by an inspired and youthful performance from Graf that night. I think if we must compare champions, Navratilova was a bit more selective with her schedule toward the end of her career than someone like Margaret Court was. Margaret basically went out there and played everywhere, and as a result lost most of her matches to both Evert and Navratilova toward the end of her great career. Similarly, it could be argued that toward what we thought was the end of Billie Jean's singles career in the mid to late 70s, she selectively avoided playing Margaret Court from 73-77.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 19th, 2004, 12:54 PM
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I'm not sure I agree with you about Madge. She never really returned to European clay after 1973, although she played on till early 77. Madge's twilight years are complicated by her absences due to pregnancy and the fact that the circuit in those years was based indoors until April and then there was WTT. Only in 75 did she play a full schedule, so it is difficult to assess if she had an overall strategy going on.

As for BJK, like her serve-volleying counterpart Martina, by the time she was 33-4 (in 1977), she was having major knee problems and limited her play to grass and carpet with just the od tourney on clay and cement. Again, I don't think BJK was avoiding anyone: she was just trying to conserve her body and stay competitive.

Traits Gandhi considered the most spiritually perilous to humanity.
*Wealth without Work * Pleasure without Conscience

*Science without Humanity *Knowledge without Character

*Politics without Principle *Commerce without Morality

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 19th, 2004, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy T
I'm not sure I agree with you about Madge. She never really returned to European clay after 1973, although she played on till early 77. Madge's twilight years are complicated by her absences due to pregnancy and the fact that the circuit in those years was based indoors until April and then there was WTT. Only in 75 did she play a full schedule, so it is difficult to assess if she had an overall strategy going on.

As for BJK, like her serve-volleying counterpart Martina, by the time she was 33-4 (in 1977), she was having major knee problems and limited her play to grass and carpet with just the od tourney on clay and cement. Again, I don't think BJK was avoiding anyone: she was just trying to conserve her body and stay competitive.
Yes, but many top players didn't play the European clay between 73-77, and not all of them skipped it because of WTT. Clay is every bit as easy on the body, and in some respects even easier on the body than grass or carpet, as you can play on it all day long, whereas all day on grass will get anyone's attention. Evert was already a clay-court terror by the time she won there in 1974-75, and Navratilova was an up-and-coming talent, but by no means yet as good as Evonne Goolagong, who because of WTT did not play as many French Opens as we would have liked. Evert's loss to Court in the 73 final was one of the, if not THE best match of the entire year, and Billie Jean, who was having a mediocre year at best, chose to skip the tournament entirely (where she was defending champion), to focus on Wimbledon, where she won (many thanks to Chris for taking Margaret out in the semis).

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