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That’s my favorite Graf/Martina match ever. Thank you for posting.
I think the Graf v Navratilova rivalry is my all-time favourite. Steffi always said that Martina was the true measure of her game and often called her the toughest opponent she ever faced in her career, although I don't know if she still says that. There was an interview some years ago where, for the first time ever, Graf called Seles her toughest opponent. In any case it'd be a tossup between those two southpaws, I think, with Navratilova's classic left-handed serve-and-volley being more of a challenge for Graf's style.

I am partial to their 1986 US Open semi (which was the first time I ever saw Steffi in action) and the 1987 French final. The first two sets of their 1989 Slims final also feature some extremely high-quality play from both players.
 
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Just watched the 3h38 Barcelona final Nadal-Tsitsipas ! What a match.
And I was thinking which Steffi's match comes to your mind as the craziest ?
Not very original for me, the FO 1999 final comes to mind first.
I am curious, and as I didn't see them all, I still can watch them, it's never too late😁
 

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Not so much the craziest as the most dramatic and the most memorable to me: 1986 US Open semi-final. Earlier that year I had read the odd news report about Steffi winning the Family Circle Cup but all the write-ups at the time about the best future prospects were about Gabriela Sabatini who was being touted as the heiress apparent to Navratilova and Evert. I might have read an article or two about Graf but I didn't pay much attention to her until that semi-final against Navratilova.

It wasn't just the extremely high quality of play, especially in the final set. I was astounded by and fascinated by Graf's utter fearlessness in standing up to a dominant number one like Martina was and taking her to the brink of defeat. Even better was Steffi's hilariously unsporting brush-off at the net when Navratilova tried to comfort her. It showed that this 17-year-old was furious about losing and that her competitive fire was what was needed to challenge the Evertilova axis after a few years of the likes of, say, Pam Shriver or Carling Bassett looking and sounding apologetic if they so much as even dared to push Martina or Chrissie to a third set. It finally seemed like the void left by Tracy Austin's departure was going to be filled and that women's tennis wouldn't have to rely on the streaky and temperamental Mandlikova to challenge Navratilova and Evert at the top of the game.

A part of me wishes Steffi had converted one of her match points and then gone on to beat Sukova in the final, but the excitement and thrill of watching that match was quite something even with the disappointment of her having three match points and not converting any. Steffi herself said something later about getting the chills when she heard the entire stadium cheering loudly for both her and Martina, and wanting to do something extra to give the spectators something to cheer about. The other semi and Navratilova's straight sets rout of Sukova in the final were both a complete letdown, but Navratilova vs Graf was the match of the tournament. In fact Tennis and World Tennis magazines even rated it the best women's match of the year.
 

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Reading this old article and the sheer hyperbole of it all made me laugh. Yes, it was Navratilova's third tournament win in as many weeks, but to suggest that Graf's days as numero uno were numbered simply because Navratilova had whipped the Lutherville Lamppost 0 and 2 in the Slims of DC final was a bit too premature, not to mention over-the-top. And of course it turned out to be an incorrect prediction eventually because Navratilova never did recapture the top spot in the rankings.


NAVRATILOVA'S NO. 2, AND TRYING HARDER

By MICHAEL WILBON
February 29, 1988

Rarely has a tennis player ranked among the top five in the world had less chance of winning a match than Pam Shriver had yesterday.

Jimmy Swaggart has a better shot at being named minister of the year than Shriver had of beating Martina Navratilova in the Virginia Slims of Washington championship match.

Shriver is the fourth-ranked player in the world. This week, she passed Margaret Court to move into 10th place on the all-time list for matches won. She's 25 years old, in her prime. In four tournaments this year, Shriver has reached the finals three times. This week, she beat the fifth-ranked and seventh-ranked players in the world in straight sets. Yesterday, against Navratilova, Shriver played okay. Certainly not near her best, but nothing to be ashamed of; could've beaten maybe 85 percent of them women in the top 50.

Shriver lost, 6-0, 6-2. It wasn't that close, trust me. This is what Shriver said about the match: "I got killed." Okay, so she understated things a little bit. The only way Shriver was going to win yesterday was if she had changed Navratilova's wake-up call, leaving Navratilova to get stuck in the massive traffic jam on Braddock Road so she had to forfeit.

Despite all this, Shriver has no reason to feel bad. Navratilova is so untouchably hot, so confident that she can do absolutely anything, she ought to tie on a pair of skates and go looking for Katarina Witt.

It could have been any woman on the pro tennis tour losing to Navratilova yesterday, but it was Shriver's misfortune to be on the other side this time. Sure, Shriver almost always loses to Navratilova. In fact, Shriver has lost 23 straight encounters with her doubles partner, 33 of 36 since the two first met nearly 10 years ago. But the matches are also almost always close; the previous five had been decided in either a third-set or second-set tie breaker.

Not this time. "It was a pretty even match," Shriver quipped. "I held serve once and broke once."

After Navratilova won the first set, 6-0, Shriver looked across the net and said, "That was warm-ups, right? Okay, I'm ready now."

Shriver, always combative and competitive, took a 2-0 lead that lasted for about two minutes. "In case any of you went to the rest room or to get a drink, I had a break and was up, 2-0. For those of you who missed my little rally, I'm sorry."

Fortunately for Shriver, she didn't lose her sense of humor. "I wish I could sit here and explain what it's like to play her when she's like this," Shriver said to the crowd at Patriot Center. "Congratulations on picking back up again, you rat."

Navratilova was the one who should have apologized for being a less-than-gracious visitor, and she did. She came into Shriver's back yard (Shriver grew up in Lutherville, Md., and resides in Baltimore) and whacked her. At least twice, on Shriver's serve, Navratilova hit three winners in a single game. Off first serves.

The point is that women's tennis is about to be held hostage by Navratilova. Again. And there's nothing anybody, not Chris Evert, Pam Shriver, Steffi Graf or anybody else can do to top it or even slow it down.

Having lost so many close, emotional matches to Navratilova -- nine of them in the finals -- Shriver and everybody else would have to hope that at 31 years old, in her 16th year on the circuit, Navratilova would be slowing down. At least a little.

Instead, Navratilova is planning on overthrowing Graf, the current No. 1, before the end of the year. The stalk is on and it was too bad that Shriver had to be the first victim. Shriver had a left-hander (like Navratilova) hit serves to her Saturday evening and yesterday morning. Shriver hit hard serves to the backhand side that most players struggle to return at all. Navratilova nailed winners.

"I don't want to see anybody playing that good," Shriver said. "This is the way I felt three or four years ago when I wasn't as good {as she is now}. Martina is on a streak where she's just . . . woooo."

That's right, she's too good for words right now.

And the downright frightening thing, if you're a woman on the tour, is that Navratilova said she's going to get better. "I can hit the ball harder," she said. Harder than what?

Another scary thing is that Navratilova fully expected this second wind and doesn't understand why others didn't expect it, too. "I was surprised I was being written off so quickly," she said, referring to some reports that claimed her days of yore were about done. "I am surprised I regained my game so quickly. That's the only thing that surprised me."

Navratilova should understand that the rest of us are surprised, shocked even. We aren't used to athletes slipping a little (if you can call winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open "slipping") then deciding at 31 years of age to resume whipping up on folks half her age.

Steffi Graf, your days are numbered. Asked whether she was planning a second heyday, Navratilova said, "You bet."

Asked how long it might take to take back No. 1 if she keeps playing like this, Navratilova said, "It doesn't matter if it's April or if it's November. But if I can keep playing like this it will be this year. I'm up to the challenge."
 

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Wow, that was very strange. I don’t recall anyone talking like that in early 1988. Martina had just lost in straights to Chris at the AO and Steffi had not lost a match in 6 months. Steffi would finally lose to Gaby for the first time (yay!) but she was in no danger of losing number one in 1988. Was Michael a sports writer who never followed tennis? Or did he think the year was 1984. When Martina blew her lead at Wimbledon and looked nervous and scared, I knew the torch was forever passed. And so did she.
 

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Thanks ^^

Back to tennis, I was a bit surprised this week to hear that Serena played "only" her 1000th match, she turned pro (end of) 1995 ?!! Federer who has the same age, and turned pro in1998 has played more than 1500 matches.
Steffi had more than 1000 before being 30.
 

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Thanks ^^

Back to tennis, I was a bit surprised this week to hear that Serena played "only" her 1000th match, she turned pro (end of) 1995 ?!! Federer who has the same age, and turned pro in1998 has played more than 1500 matches.
Steffi had more than 1000 before being 30.
Serena concentrated far more on slams than any other player in history.
Still she played 237 tournaments against Steffi's 215. She lost more often before the finals than any other all-time great (has only 98 finals appearances) which also reduced her number of matches.

Two other tidbits:
1) Federer played 363 tournaments, Navratilova 390!!
2) Steffi won 107 tournaments; had she retired one week earlier (not played San Diego 1999) she would have had won exactly 50 % of the tournaments she had played. Which is even more astonishing when we consider that she lost the first 32 tournaments of her career (when she was 13-16 years old).
 
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What do you think were Steffi's
A) three best matches ever
B) three greatest matches ever
C) three most important wins ever?

My choices would be
A) vs. Navratilova (Wimbledon 1988), vs. Seles (Wimbledon 1992), vs. Sanchez (Australian Open 1994)
B) vs. Navratilova (Wimbledon 1988), vs. Seles (French Open 1992), vs. Hingis (French Open 1999)
C) vs. Sabatini (Wimbledon 1991), vs. Seles (Wimbledon 1992), vs. Seles (US Open 1995)

What's your take?
 
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Don it’s very hard to argue with your choices.
For greatest match I think that 1988 Wimbledon final stands out because she beat the greatest grass court player ever in an astonishing fashion from love-two down. From that point on she basically beat Martina 6-0, 6-1, which is beyond belief. I was shattered but in absolute awe. I’ve never seen anything like it. Before or since.
I actually agree with your entire list except for the Seles ‘92 FO match under category B. It was pure excitement but had so many errors.
I would substitute the 1995 Wimbledon win over ASV For category B. It was such a cleaner match and very very exciting.
Otherwise I agree.
 

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I knew there was a "problem", it's even more clearer with the number of tournaments played. That's why those goat debates are stupid, % or don't even try to compare. And even with % it's stupid, the differences between generations are so huge : conditions, materials, surfaces,...

Her number of matches should be more Fed/Nav like, considering the length of their careers, that's why I was very surprised.
 

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Like Mark, the 1992 French final, it was so full of errors and they only played at their best(that day) at the same time in the third.
I would actually add the 1999 FO final, the level of tennis was so far from their best and so erratic.
BUT these 2 matches had crazy atmosphere and drama, that's why they are so unforgettable !

I agree with the 1988 Wimbledon final for best and greatest. The stats of this match are crazy.

C) 1995 usopen as first choice, 1991 Wimbledon F I agree. Then I would pick 1988 us open F, instead of 1992 Wim
 

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Yeah that ‘88 USO final was huge. I guess I would place it higher if she faced Martina in the final. I didn’t expect Gaby to push her as hard as she did, plus I knew Gaby would be nervous in her very first slam final.
 

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Absolutely. That match is only talked about when a slam is within reach... which means only once since 1988 and Serena was a nervous wreck. Even tho Steffi was near perfection in the ‘88 FO final, when I think back to that year and her achievements the crowning glory is always those two breathtaking sets against Navratilova in the W final. It was shocking and utterly amazing. A literal changing of the guard right before ones very eyes in real time.
Glorious, even though I was devastated and pissed. Ha!
 
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