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25,837 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Graf-Navratilova head to head is a 9-9 tie. Lets share thoughts on their matches and rivalry here. If anyone has match summaries, clips, or memories please share!

Tied at 9 - 9

All matches finals unless otherwise indicated

1985 US OPEN (HARD) Semis M. NAVRATILOVA 6-2 6-3
1986 VS CHMPS (Indoors) Semis M. NAVRATILOVA 6-2 6-2
1986 US OPEN (HARD) M. NAVRATILOVA 6-1 6-7(3) 7-6(8)
1986 VS CHAMPS(Indoors)M. NAVRATILOVA 7-6(3) 6-3 6-2
1987 MIAMI (Hard )Semis S. GRAF 6-3 6-2
1987 FRENCH OPEN (Clay)S. GRAF 6-4 4-6 8-6
1987 WIMBLEDON (Grass)M. NAVRATILOVA 7-5 6-3
1987 US OPEN (Hard)M. NAVRATILOVA 7-6(4) 6-1
1988 WIMBLEDON (Grass)S. GRAF 5-7 6-2 6-1
1989 WIMBLEDON (Grass)S. GRAF 6-2 6-7(1) 6-1
1989 US OPEN (Hard) S. GRAF 3-6 7-5 6-1
1989 VS CHAMPIONSHIPS (Indoors )S. GRAF 6-4 7-5 2-6 6-2
1991 US OPEN (Hard) Semis M. NAVRATILOVA 7-6(2) 6-7(6) 6-4
1992 EUROPEAN INDOORS (Indoors )S. GRAF 2-6 7-5 7-5
1993 TOKYO (Indoors)Semis M. NAVRATILOVA 4-6 6-3 6-3
1994 TOKYO (Indoors)S. GRAF 6-2 6-4


Slams Navratilova 5-Graf 4
Majors (includes Virginia Slims) Navratilova 8-Graf 5

Aussie: Never meet
French: 1-0 Graf
Wimbledon: 2-1 Graf
US Open: 4-1 Navratilova
WTA Chmps: 3-1 Navratilova

By surface:

Clay 2-0 Graf
Grass 2-1 Graf
Hard 5-2 Navratilova
Indoors 3-3 tie

3 set matches: 6 Graf-3 Navratilova

Match points: Navratilova saved match points at the 1986 US Open.

25,837 Posts
Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
1988 WIMBLEDON (Grass)S. GRAF 5-7 6-2 6-1

a copy of post #36 by OrdinaryFoolish

An Era Ends as Graf Beats Navratilova
July 3, 1988
By PETER ALFANO - New York Times

WIMBLEDON, England -- As she stood at the umpire's chair during the postmatch
ceremony - trying to keep a stiff upper lip in the best British tradition -Martina Navratilova
could have cloosed her eyes and recited all the parts by heart. This was the ninth time she had
played a major role in this slice of Wimbledon pomp and circumstance, having become as
much of a fixture on Centre Court as the Duke and Duchess of Kent. For the first time,
however, she would leave without the championship.

That now belongs to Steffi Graf of West Germany, who at 19 is clearly alone at the
top of the women's game. Last year, she assumed the No. 1 ranking from Navratilova, and
today, she took the prize that Navratilova values the most.

"This is how it should happen," Navratilova said. "I lost to a better player on the
final day. This is the end of a chapter, passing the torch if you want to call it that."

Graf struggled at first, then overpowered Navratilova, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, to win her first
Wimbledon title. She has now earned three-quarters of the Grand Slam, needing only to win
the United States Open in September to complete the task. She would be the first woman to
win the Slam since Margaret Court in 1970. Graf won the Australian Open in January and
the French Open in June.

There was more at stake, however, than Graf's Grand Slam ambitions. Navratilova
was vying for a record ninth Wimbledon singles championship, which would have enabled
her to pass Helen Wills Moody. She had also won six of those titles in succession, a record
she holds alone. In past years, Navratilova stood at Centre Court, holding up the large silver plate awarded the winner, likening her collection to chinaware. She wanted to add to her service of eight, she said.

Graf will make that goal more difficult to attain, however, as she showed during this
Wimbledon that she will be as difficult to beat on grass as on any other surface. This was
considered Navratilova's last domain. "Getting ready for the final has always been easy for
me," Navratilova said. "I wasn't nervous or uptight. But Steffi was hitting winners all over
the place. She gets to balls no one else can. I got blown out the last two sets. So it wasn't that tough to accept losing. I could feel what she was feeling, have that same joy because I know what the feeling is."

Graf tossed her racquet into the box seats, the way she did when she won the French
Open for the first time in 1987. An official showed her how to hold the trophy in the
traditional display to the photographers and crowd. Navratilova watched, mustering a smile,
fingering the much smaller plate given the runner-up.

"Winning is such a special feeling," Graf said. "I was confident before the match, but
the first set made me very angry. I just wanted to hang in there, to show I could play much
better than I was."

Graf is noted for her topspin forehand, easily the most intimidating shot among the
women. Unlike the patty-cake baseliners of the previous generation, she plays aggressively
from the backcourt, overpowering other baseliners, discouraging serve-and-volleyers with buggy-whip passing shots.

She is more, though, than a one-shot player. In the past year, Graf's serve has become
formidable and she is also developing a better-than-average net game. Her backhand, which
Navratilova tried to exploit, is considered her weakness, although it is better than most.
Navratilova sliced her serve and ground strokes to Graf's backhand in the first set, just as she
had in last year's final. Graf was up a break at 4-2, but the strategy began to pay off as
Navratilova broke in the 10th game and again in the 12th to win the set.

"My backhand was terrible," Graf said. "I just didn't feel comfortable out there. I had
been trying to get good angles on my returns, but in the second set I played more to her
volley, letting her hit it, then getting another chance."

When Navratilova broke in the second game of the second set to lead, 2-0, the match
appeared to be over. Graf's shoulders sagged; she looked defeated. Navratilova was all
clenched fist and swagger. But Graf broke back in the third game, hitting two service-return
winners on her forehand. That was to be the turning point in the match as Navratilova was
unable to hold serve again. The mood changed as dramatically as the weather has these past
few days.

It was like trying to stop a runaway train. Graf won nine games in a row, taking the
second set, building a 3-0 lead in the final one. Navratilova did not have any answers. Graf
was playing in that hurry-up no-nonsense manner of hers, and when Navratilova paused to
wipe a few raindrops from her glasses, the crowd booed, thinking she was stalling. "I was so angry," she said. "I wasn't stalling, I was trying to see."

Navratilova broke Graf in the fourth game, giving her a glimmer of hope, but then it
rained and any momentum disappeared. "I saw her in the locker room and she was so down,"
Graf said. "I thought, 'If she's going to play like she looks, she can't win.' "

Sure enough, when play resumed after a 44-minute delay, Graf broke Navratilova
again, moving around the court as if she were on springs. She held serve and then broke
Navratilova to close out the match, aided by two dwouble faults. At match point, she whipped
a backhand return winner that clipped the net as it went past Navratilova.

"Steffi is a super player and a nice human being," Navratilova said. "If she can keep
winning, great. It's possible I can win Wimbledon again, I would love to win it one more
time. But you can't be greedy. Eight ain't so bad, you know."

25,837 Posts
Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
1989 US OPEN (Hard) S. GRAF 3-6 7-5 6-1

Posted by OrdinaryFoolish (see post 34)

September 10, 1989
Graf Struggles Early, but Captures Open
"New York Times"

All year long, Steffi Graf had been in a struggle with herself to
prevent 1989 from becoming anticlimactic to 1988, the season she
attained a Golden Grand Slam of tennis by capturing all four Grand
Slam titles and, in something of a command performance for her native
West Germany, an Olympic gold medal. By the time she reached this
United States Open, Graf was tired of hearing herself compared to a
machine, and tired of putting herself through her paces before a crowd
torn between a demand for perfection and the desire to see her betray
some signs of vulnerability.

But Graf, in more fragile form than she has displayed in recent years,
regained her champion's standards after a puzzling start against
Martina Navratilova yesterday and successfully defended her United
States Open title with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory. The tournament brought
Graf her third Grand Slam victory of the year and her seventh Grand
Slam championship in two years.

When Graf finished the match with an ace on her second serve, both
women tossed their racquets into the air: Navratilova, who felt she
gave the match away, in disgust, and Graf, with her performance
anxieties behind her for the moment, in triumph.

In her usual hurry, Graf barely had time to go through the
post-victory formalities before she was due on a flight back to
Bruehl, West Germany. Once she got home, Graf said, she would take the
leisure to savor this comeback victory against the opponent she has
trouble speaking to but loves to defeat.

"I was trying to go for it and didn't let up, and that was the most
important thing," said Graf, who later denied Navratilova's suggestion
that she takes little pleasure from the game and instead has grown
accustomed to winning in a mechanical manner. "I think that someone
who doesn't enjoy the sport wouldn't be on the court anymore," Graf
said. "I like it very much, but if it doesn't show, I don't care."

Navratilova predicted five years ago that her retention of the No. 1
spot in women's tennis would become dependent on Graf's maturation
rate. Yesterday's triumph provided Graf with her fourth victory in her
last six meetings with Navratilova in Grand Slam finals, the events
tennis professionals use as the measure of championship mettle.

"I knew it was going to be hard to come back," Graf said of her
inauspicious start. "Yesterday, I thought I was going to lose it,"
she said of the semifinal match against Gabriela Sabatini that sent
her from the Stadium court convulsed by tears and cramps, "but not
today. Today I just kept hanging in. I felt very comfortable that I
would win the second set: I told myself, 'Just give everything.' "

For Navratilova, making her 17th appearance at the Open, the match
marked the end of another disappointing year in which she was frozen
out of the Grand Slam winner's circle, largely due to Graf's presence
there, for only the second time this decade.

"I'll be back again next year," said Navratilova, who claimed the
first set and was up 4-3 in the second when Graf reignited her
blistering cross-court forehand and began to make her move. "By the
third set she was a runaway train," the 32-year-old veteran with 17
Grand Slam championships said of the 20-year-old Graf. "It's just hard
to stop her once she gets going."

In the first set, Navratilova held serve and, playing a breezily
perfect level of tennis, nonchalantly broke Graf in the eighth game to
give herself the only edge she needed. Navratilova was blowing kisses
at the sky as she dug improbable volleys out of her feet and nudged
them over the net, and her fussily placed serves prevented Graf from
doing any real damage. But Navratilova's easy manner eventually began
to work against her once Graf shook off her initial inertia and began
to fight back.

"If anything, this was a case of not tightening the screws enough,"
Navratilova said. "I know how to beat her, I just haven't been able to
do it again."

This was the third Grand Slam final where Graf, who five years ago
received a letter of encouragement from Navratilova after sustaining
an injury, spoiled Navratilova's quest to secure her first Grand Slam
title since the 1987 Open. In that match, an 18-year-old Graf was her
victim, but since then Navratilova has been the perpetual challenger.

From the start of the match, Navratilova, determined to stay relaxed,
had behaved like a hostess on the Stadium court. She arrived with a
bundle of flowers, beaming a debutante's smile, and carefully removed
her watch and rearranged her jewelry before taking to the court for
the warmup session. Through the first set, Navratilova seemed to be
playing for joy, not under pressure, and it helped her storm ahead to
a 6-3 snubbing of the world's best player.

Graf was unsmiling, all business, and appeared to be playing under
some duress, uneasy over the sweltering conditions on court and the
memory of the cramps she suffered in the 120-degree courtside heat
during her victory over Sabatini. That three-set match, twice as long
as her previous matches and the first of the tournament that had been
more than a glorified practice session for Graf, had drained her. Graf
typically moves across the court like a toe dancer, but yesterday, at
least for the first set, she rocked back on her heels
uncharacteristically and allowed Navratilova to lurk like a predator
at the net.

Navratilova, her passion for the game as evident as Graf's is veiled,
had the crowd in her corner and didn't mind playing the underdog's
role, especially when the momentum belonged to her. But Navratilova's
pleasant expression became vexed when Graf began to pour on the
passing shots midway through the second set, undermining her own
efforts at net.

Graf, after losing her serve in the third game of the second set,
broke back to 4-4 in the eighth game by pummeling her return into
Navratilova's feet. After fending off a break point in the ninth game,
Graf smiled her first smile of the match as she toweled the sweat and
steam from her right arm and prepared to deliver a service winner.

In the set's 12th game, Graf sent a backhand down the line, passed
Navratilova as she charged the net, and then forced Navratilova to
push a volley long, earning herself a triple break point as well as
three set points. At 15-40, when Navratilova netted her backhand
approach shot and lost the game and set, she uttered a shrill cry of
frustration that Graf interpreted as surrender.

In the end, Navratilova said, the player who has been the most recent
rather than most prolific champion had the final say because she
dictated the play on the crucial points. "I've been there many times,
but I haven't been there for a while," she said.

"I go more from memory than instinct," said Navratilova, who then
described Graf's grasp of victory as "second nature."

576 Posts
I think it is unfortunate they didn't play more often. They didn't play at all in 1990 (when they were #1 and #2 for nearly the entire year). Except for Wimbledon, it wasn't Steffi's fault.

Martina avoided the clay court season, so that cut down on a number of opportunities.

Martina also had a very high success rate against Graf at the US Open, a 4-1 advantage, including 3 semifinal wins. Martina sometimes had problems in Flushing Meadows.

I always enjoyed the 1987 French final and the 1988 Wimbledon final.

In three of Graf's wins over Navratilova, Steffi won 12 of the last 13 games (1988 Wimbledon), 11 of the last 13 games (1989 US Open), and 10 of the last 13 games (1989 Wimbledon)! In that 1989 US Open final, when Navratilova led 6-3,4-2, she held up two fingers, summoning herself to win 2 more games for the title. Martina did win 2 more games. But they weren't the two she needed to win, and Graf rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 win.
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