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View Full Version : Re-assessing Evert's clay court legacy vs Graf.


BTURNER
04-23-2009, 08:19 AM
This is tough for me to admit or suggest , but is it possible that Evert is getting an uncritical pass GOAT on clay? One of the things I have been persuaded by posters here , is that Evert's clay court competition was not as tough throughout some major stages of her career as Graf's. ( I tried to persuade them that the grass court minefield of all time greats more than made up the difference when so many slams were grass)

Graf and Evert have the same number of French finals with Evert converting on one more. Graf's era showcased the best of the best year after year with Sanchez, Martinez, Sabatini, Seles, second tier Maleeva sisters, Huber, and even some S& V''s who played well on dirt like Hana, Martina and Jana and Sukova and THEY ALL showed up for the French and most routinely played other clay events because they felt comfortable and competitive on the surface. Of course Evert's aces were those strings for years on end and those well attended US opens on clay with the loss of only one set. Still, not many great dirtballers rd after rd. For the record Evert has 5 italians, Graf 1. Graf has 9 Germans ( she lost 2 finals - both straight sets to Evert and Seles), Evert has 2. Evert has those Hilton head and US clay titles.

Hypothetically, would a prime Evert (1985-1986, when she had her great consistency and confidence, along with her maximum power, speed and variety she acquired to beat Navratilova) win most of slams with in the early/mid nineties with the kinds of draws the RG event had? Could she beat prime Sanchez semi, then Seles back to back? How about Martinez in QF, Sabatini in the semis and Graf in the final? Would she do better than Graf did?

grafselesfan
04-23-2009, 08:32 AM
I think you said it best on another thread. Chris is actually very underrated on grass, and somewhat overrated on clay despite how great she is. Despite winning only 3 Wimbledons she played in an era almost all the women played their best tennis on grass so her competition was mega tough, in the 80s less deep than the 70s but then she had Martina on grass to go through so...On clay she is amazing of course but also benefits from some of the worst clay court fields ever. The late 73-early 79 clay court field she set her vaunted 125 match streak against was by far the most pitiful clay court field in history. Goolagong was the only decent clay courter she faced, nobody else.

I think it is very possible Graf, Seles, and Lenglen are all over her on clay. If you put those players in Everts shoes, have them still skip the French every year from 1976-1978 I wouldnt be surprised if they all end up with 7 French Opens or more, as well as matching the 125 win streak of Evert in the 70s on clay or longer. I also dont think Evert neccessarily wins 7 French Opens if she is born at the same time as say Steffi Graf. Even the second tier contenders of the Graf era like Sabatini, Pierce, and Martinez are just so much better than anyone Evert had to face on clay for so many years (after Court and Richey got old) until Navratilova finally reached her prime. Having to face Seles for the years Graf did, even if the stabbing still takes place, Sanchez Vicario for many years, and those players challenging behind them, Evert will have her hands full much more than she ever did on clay except with prime Navratilova.

From 1973 to 1979 the only two women who could beat Evert on clay were a 31 year old Court and a 16 year old Austin. From 1974-1978 her only near defeat on clay was trailing 7-6, 5-0 I think to a 32 year old Nancy Richey before Richey hurt herself and began cramping. What does that say about her competition on the surface during this time.

Yes the Graf-Seles era on clay was miles deeper than the Evert era on clay. Evert only faced Goolagong on clay in the 70s, and Navratilova and Mandlikova in the 80s. That is it, her only decent comeptition on the surface of any kind. Sabatini, Pierce, Martinez types behind the big 2 or 3 the surface did not even exist at any point in time. There was absolutely nobody else. Austin hardly ever played on clay despite having the game for it, so you cant even really count her.

suwanee4712
04-23-2009, 08:49 AM
More times than not, to beat Chris on clay you had to take it to her, which is a strategy that isn't always rewarded on clay. There are very few examples of players that outsteadied Chris on clay. There's Maleeva and Jaeger who each had big forehands and steady strokes all around. But the times they beat Chris they were able to be more patient than Chris. There's also Sanchez, but to be fair to Chris, she was playing with a bone spur on her heel.

Otherwise, the big clay court losses that Chris suffered tended to be from top level attackers like Court, Martina, and Hana.

In the group of Sanchez, Martinez, etc. I don't see a lot of players that could really force Chris into anything. But if Maleeva can outsteady Chris on clay, then I think it's reasonable to suspect that Sanchez may have once or twice as well. Chris may not hit as hard as they do, but she could open up the court with her flat, precision strokes. More times than not, that would probably beat the others.

It would've taken a Steffi or Monica to force Chris into errors on clay. Although I think Chris could hold her own against them.

I don't see a Novotna challenging Chris on clay as much as Hana did. Jana's slice backhand was steady, but I don't think she could've controlled rallies often enough to position Chris with it. On her day, Hana could go toe to toe because of her big flat forehand (she also looped it a lot on clay) and her versatility on the backhand that allows for the change the pace that Chris didn't really like to play against, as well as attacking the net thoughtfully.

On clay, I think their competition looks rather even. On the other surfaces, I still prefer the players of Chris' era.

BTURNER
04-23-2009, 08:51 AM
Well, we both agree about the 70's. But a groundswell of response grew from her dominance in the early 80's, including Austin, Jaeger, Navratilova and Mandlikova then Graf, Sabatini, etc in the mid/late eighties. Players who learned or adapted to her two handed steady style to compete If you want to move Seles or Graf back in time, I submit a groundswell of response to their games will grow out of that same dominance and that response will lead to the same great depth Evert faced in the 80's only with their tactics and strokes as targets for answers. I am just moving Evert forward because it is easier to imagine. Trust me. Answers would come against the Graf power and inside out forehand or Seles two handed flatter strokes in some fashion. I'm not saying you are wrong. I am saying what would have developed would indeed have threatened those folks too. Another point. Graf and Seles are very different. We know how well Graf did in an extended career. We do not know how soon Seles gets burned out or physidcally overwhelmed if she did not have that long break. She may not even get farther than her late 20's without doing a Borg or a Wilander.

grafselesfan
04-23-2009, 09:01 AM
I don't see a Novotna challenging Chris on clay as much as Hana did.

No offense but I have to laugh at whatever you are trying to imply by even saying that. Novotna is probably about the 10th best clay courter of the Graf era, and that might be kind. She made 2 semis there in her long career, where she was spanked by Graf and Sanchez. Tons of early first week losses there, no tier 1 titles on clay that I know of. Hana was the 2nd best clay courter Evert ever faced from 1974 to 1986 on the surface, after only Martina in the 80s. I would sure hope the 2nd best clay court comeptition Evert faced in over a decade of clay court dominance was harder than around the 10th best clay courter of the Graf-Seles era. Maybe you are just comparing them as they play similar games, but nobody has ever suggested Novotna was as good a player as Hana, least of all on clay which was Janas worst surface by an even bigger margin than Hana.

BTURNER
04-23-2009, 09:05 AM
More times than not, to beat Chris on clay you had to take it to her, which is a strategy that isn't always rewarded on clay. There are very few examples of players that outsteadied Chris on clay. There's Maleeva and Jaeger who each had big forehands and steady strokes all around. But the times they beat Chris they were able to be more patient than Chris. There's also Sanchez, but to be fair to Chris, she was playing with a bone spur on her heel.

Otherwise, the big clay court losses that Chris suffered tended to be from top level attackers like Court, Martina, and Hana.

In the group of Sanchez, Martinez, etc. I don't see a lot of players that could really force Chris into anything. But if Maleeva can outsteady Chris on clay, then I think it's reasonable to suspect that Sanchez may have once or twice as well. Chris may not hit as hard as they do, but she could open up the court with her flat, precision strokes. More times than not, that would probably beat the others.

It would've taken a Steffi or Monica to force Chris into errors on clay. Although I think Chris could hold her own against them.

I don't see a Novotna challenging Chris on clay as much as Hana did. Jana's slice backhand was steady, but I don't think she could've controlled rallies often enough to position Chris with it. On her day, Hana could go toe to toe because of her big flat forehand (she also looped it a lot on clay) and her versatility on the backhand that allows for the change the pace that Chris didn't really like to play against, as well as attacking the net thoughtfully.

On clay, I think their competition looks rather even. On the other surfaces, I still prefer the players of Chris' era.

I guess I agree about the quality of competition in the eighties being similar to the ninties, but the 70's, Suwannee? some Red clay championships were not much more competitive than Court's Australians in the early 60'swhen you factor in the predominence of the Serve and Volley game these ladies grew up on and trained against. they just were not prepared to rally against those groundstrokes. They thought a groundstroke was just something you used, until you got to net! Not something you won tournaments with! Evert taught them differently!

grafselesfan
04-23-2009, 09:11 AM
Well, we both agree about the 70's. But a groundswell of response grew from her dominance in the early 80's, including Austin, Jaeger, Navratilova and Mandlikova then Graf, Sabatini, etc in the mid/late eighties. Players who learned or adapted to her two handed steady style to compete If you want to move Seles or Graf back in time, I submit a groundswell of response to their games will grow out of that same dominance and that response will lead to the same great depth Evert faced in the 80's only with their tactics and strokes as targets for answers. I am just moving Evert forward because it is easier to imagine. Trust me. Answers would come against the Graf power and inside out forehand or Seles two handed flatter strokes in some fashion. I'm not saying you are wrong. I am saying what would have developed would indeed have threatened those folks too. Another point. Graf and Seles are very different. We know how well Graf did in an extended career. We do not know how soon Seles gets burned out or physidcally overwhelmed if she did not have that long break. She may not even get farther than her late 20's without doing a Borg or a Wilander.

Yes I agree the 80s field on clay was atleast much improved from the 70s. Chris winning 3 out of 6 French opens from 1981 to 1986 is much more impressive to me than her vaunted 125 match win streak on clay from late 1973 to 1979 as she actually had some semblance of competition forming on clay in the 80s. The 70s field on clay after Court last played the French Open in 1973 is so unspeakably bad I doubt we will ever see anything like it again. Even the abysmal clay court field we have seen since 2004 has more depth than the 73-79 period on clay. In the 80s the clay court field improved somewhat at last (thank goodness for tennis fans who liked watching tennis on clay).

Yes you are right on Seles specificaly too. Alas we will never know how long she would have lasted as she was robbed of that chance to a large extent which is a shame. It is alot of speculation to be fair in that regard, you are right. In her defense I will say even with all she had to cope with she still was a top 5 player and contending on clay as late as 2002 when she was 28. Of course that is not an unequivable answer, but maybe a hint her longevity could have been pretty good at the highest level, but in fairness still not something we will ever know for certain.

boredone3456
04-23-2009, 09:14 AM
I will agree Evert did get a little lucky in some of her Clay Court wins. Many of the women that were her contemporaries were S&V type players whose game was more suited to grass and most of whom (Navratilova being an exception), had a hard time adapting consistantly that style to clay and doing it affectively against Evert who had what may be some of the best passing shots in history. However, its cliche I know, but you can only play who there is to play. Evert should be given some credit for winning those 7 frenches even if its critical to who was around.

As to the question of Whether the Clay Court field of the 90's would pose Evert more of a challenge than the one in the 1970's and 1980's, I think some of them would, obviously and most notably Graf and Seles. But I will address the others and my opinion on them first.

Sabatini in my opinion would probably lose a good amount of matches to Evert on clay. I say this because Evert mentally was like a brick wall, tough to crack and able to run you down, she was tough to really dominate and even if you beat her straights she made you work for every single point until it was over, Gabby was talented but mentally not anywhere near Evert, and that would be the difference in their primes between the 2 on clay.

Arantxa, she is interesting. Her topspin and slice shots were perfect for clay, but I think she might have trouble covering the court and countering both Everts lobs and her drop shots. I think there is a good chance Arantxa could run her down like Graf and Seles at times were able to do. She was good, and the matches would probably be close in their primes, but I would give Evert the Edge.

Martinez, Huber and all those others from the 90's in my opinion wouldn't be good enough, Neither would Hingis, she was a poor mans Evert anyway.

Now Seles. This would be a very interesting matchup, Seles really had trouble with players who could read a court and move her around, she had trouble with Hingis from the get go losing to her in rather crushing fashions even fresh of her comeback and winning the Australian Open. You can say that was because of her injury and inablity to get her form back but seeing as she was a US Open Finalist, won her first tournament back and won the Aussie thats not much, especially since Hingis was so young in 1996. Based on a weakened Seles results vs a weakened version of Everts game, its tough to say Seles gets an edge, but Seles in her prime was much fitter and by far a better mover that she was when she played Hingis. I'd give them even odds, Seles power and strength vs Evert's slices, drops and lobs. It would really come down to who could bait the other into errors first.

Graf, again tough. Graf was an amazing mover, athletically amazing and had power, poise, technique and fortitude. Evert had all those things to, well not so much in the power department but on clay pure power isn't as big a deal. Again it would come down to who could crack the other open and assert themselves first on the given day. I would give Graf a slight edge if only because I feel she was a better mover than Chris, and on clay movement and footwork are huge, both were good, but I think Graf was the slightly better athlete, which is big on clay. Her athletic abilities would allow her to better chase Evert's Lobs and drops and keep herself in points, and her ability to turn defense into offense would be key. But Evert's fortitude mentally could balance that, it would be close.

Apart from mentally strong women like Seles and Graf, many players in the 90's on clay would have a great deal of difficulty keeping cool under the pressure of Evert's lobs and drops, which Navratilova herself had were a huge difficulty. Would Evert win 7 Frenches in the 90's, no probably not, but would Graf win 6 with Evert around in the 90's, again no probably not. Yes Graf could go, and Seles likely to, in her prime and win a bunch of Frenches in the 70's and 80's, but that doesn't really mean Evert is anything less on clay.

BTURNER
04-23-2009, 09:19 AM
Grafselesfan, I want to be clear. I do not think either Graf or Seles have better records or are necessarily better than Evert on clay. At present I still put Evert at #1 because those US opens matter and she was so consistent on clay for so many years on both sides of the Atlantic. I think with Graf, it is a fair question to ask, but the burden of proof is far from met with Seles. Her mind/ concentration was her great asset, like Evert's and Austin. Who knows when that concentraion starts to crack for whatever reason, losses mount as mental burnout comes. We know it didn't with Evert until the late 80's.

grafselesfan
04-23-2009, 09:22 AM
In the group of Sanchez, Martinez, etc. I don't see a lot of players that could really force Chris into anything. But if Maleeva can outsteady Chris on clay, then I think it's reasonable to suspect that Sanchez may have once or twice as well. Chris may not hit as hard as they do, but she could open up the court with her flat, precision strokes. More times than not, that would probably beat the others.

In the 80s while still in her prime Chris Evert suffered losses in huge matches on clay like tier 1 finals and slam semifinals to players such as Jaeger, Garrison, and Maleeva. Sabatini, Martinez, Pierce, even Mary Joe Fernandez are all superior clay courters to those players (maybe Jaeger over MJF). That being said I can say with total confidence Evert would probably suffer a loss at some point to all the players I named, in the case of Sabatini especialy probably multiple losses in non French Open events.

Any idea that Sanchez Vicario wouldnt get numerous wins over even a prime Evert on clay I find simply impossible. Sanchez Vicario is a much better clay courter than anyone Evert faced on clay except for maybe Navratilova, and there are many who would even rata ASV over Navratilova on clay. Myself I am not as certain on that, but at the very least she lasted alot longer as a big threat on clay than Martina ever did. Evert would not be able to overpower Sanchez Vicario as effectively as Graf and Seles did, and she is definitely quicker and arguably plays even better overall defense than Evert. She is almost as smart and mentally tough a player as Evert is. Evert is technically sounder, especialy off the forehand side. Evert would have her hands full with a prime Sanchez Vicario on clay. Overall Evert would be better, but Sanchez would hand her multiple losses on clay if they were in their mutual primes. I would bet money on that. Out of Graf, Seles, and Evert, Seles is the one who would have the easiest time with a prime Sanchez on clay. I expect Sanchez might well give Evert similar trouble to what she gave Graf on the surface, though the problems she presents for both are completely different. BTW when Evert beat Sanchez at the French Evert was still a top 5 player and almost nobody had even heard of Sanchez before. Absolutely nobody expected Sanchez to win that match. The last thing I would say is that match took place at a time Evert was supposed to be at some disadvantage.

Oh yeah after saying all that Sanchez is still only the distant 3rd greatest clay court player of the Graf era behind Graf and Seles.

grafselesfan
04-23-2009, 09:24 AM
Grafselesfan, I want to be clear. I do not think either Graf or Seles have better records or are necessarily better than Evert on clay. At present I still put Evert at #1 because those US opens matter and she was so consistent on clay for so many years on both sides of the Atlantic. I think with Graf, it is a fair question to ask, but the burden of proof is far from met with Seles. Her mind/ concentration was her great asset, like Evert's and Austin. Who knows when that concentraion starts to crack for whatever reason, losses mount as mental burnout comes. We know it didn't with Evert until the late 80's.

I realize that. I am just giving my own opinions as you opened the subject. Actually I agree with your stance on Seles come to think of it and I am probably assuming too much in her case. Sadly she is largely a what if case in this topic much like her whole career is for all the reasons you said.

flying24
04-23-2009, 09:29 AM
I will agree Evert did get a little lucky in some of her Clay Court wins. Many of the women that were her contemporaries were S&V type players whose game was more suited to grass and most of whom (Navratilova being an exception), had a hard time adapting consistantly that style to clay and doing it affectively against Evert who had what may be some of the best passing shots in history. However, its cliche I know, but you can only play who there is to play. Evert should be given some credit for winning those 7 frenches even if its critical to who was around.

As to the question of Whether the Clay Court field of the 90's would pose Evert more of a challenge than the one in the 1970's and 1980's, I think some of them would, obviously and most notably Graf and Seles. But I will address the others and my opinion on them first.

Sabatini in my opinion would probably lose a good amount of matches to Evert on clay. I say this because Evert mentally was like a brick wall, tough to crack and able to run you down, she was tough to really dominate and even if you beat her straights she made you work for every single point until it was over, Gabby was talented but mentally not anywhere near Evert, and that would be the difference in their primes between the 2 on clay.

Arantxa, she is interesting. Her topspin and slice shots were perfect for clay, but I think she might have trouble covering the court and countering both Everts lobs and her drop shots. I think there is a good chance Arantxa could run her down like Graf and Seles at times were able to do. She was good, and the matches would probably be close in their primes, but I would give Evert the Edge.

Martinez, Huber and all those others from the 90's in my opinion wouldn't be good enough, Neither would Hingis, she was a poor mans Evert anyway.

Now Seles. This would be a very interesting matchup, Seles really had trouble with players who could read a court and move her around, she had trouble with Hingis from the get go losing to her in rather crushing fashions even fresh of her comeback and winning the Australian Open. You can say that was because of her injury and inablity to get her form back but seeing as she was a US Open Finalist, won her first tournament back and won the Aussie thats not much, especially since Hingis was so young in 1996. Based on a weakened Seles results vs a weakened version of Everts game, its tough to say Seles gets an edge, but Seles in her prime was much fitter and by far a better mover that she was when she played Hingis. I'd give them even odds, Seles power and strength vs Evert's slices, drops and lobs. It would really come down to who could bait the other into errors first.

Graf, again tough. Graf was an amazing mover, athletically amazing and had power, poise, technique and fortitude. Evert had all those things to, well not so much in the power department but on clay pure power isn't as big a deal. Again it would come down to who could crack the other open and assert themselves first on the given day. I would give Graf a slight edge if only because I feel she was a better mover than Chris, and on clay movement and footwork are huge, both were good, but I think Graf was the slightly better athlete, which is big on clay. Her athletic abilities would allow her to better chase Evert's Lobs and drops and keep herself in points, and her ability to turn defense into offense would be key. But Evert's fortitude mentally could balance that, it would be close.

Apart from mentally strong women like Seles and Graf, many players in the 90's on clay would have a great deal of difficulty keeping cool under the pressure of Evert's lobs and drops, which Navratilova herself had were a huge difficulty. Would Evert win 7 Frenches in the 90's, no probably not, but would Graf win 6 with Evert around in the 90's, again no probably not. Yes Graf could go, and Seles likely to, in her prime and win a bunch of Frenches in the 70's and 80's, but that doesn't really mean Evert is anything less on clay.

You already acknowledge 4 women who could pose some real challenge to Evert on clay though- Graf, Seles, Sanchez, and Sabatini. Not neccessarily have the edge of course, but pose some legit competition. Evert always faced somewhere between 0-2 women who posed some real challenge to her on clay, more times in her career 0 than 2. So that alone shows which era would have tougher competition on clay.

BTURNER
04-23-2009, 09:30 AM
Boredone, great post. I agree with the specifics of your matchups. but what made the 90's so much more difficult, was you'd get really tough opponents in rd 16 and QF as well as semis and finals. I think peak Evert would have more trouble getting consistently to the finals year after year after, say, Martinez gets confidence from taking a set at the italian, or Sabatini gets a straight set win at Hilton Head. Evert was mentally tougher than any of them, and may well have taken some of those titles against Graf, Seles and the entire army! But year after year that army gets exhausting. Never happened in the 70's

flying24
04-23-2009, 09:39 AM
In the round of 16 in 1996 the players that favored to LOSE in that round were Mary Joe Fernandez (expected to lose to Graf), Amanda Coetzer (expected to lose to Martinez), Huber (expected to lose to Hingis), Pierce (expected to lose to Sanchez), Maggie Maleeva (expected to lose to Seles), Date (expected to lose to Davenport). Rubin and Sabatini missed that years French Open due to injuries. Had they played you could add 2 out of Rubin, Sabatini, Novotna, and Davenport as the other 2 expected to lose in the round of 16 depending on how the draw worked out. Now very few of those players would have much chance of beating Evert, really only Pierce on a great day could pull the upset, maybe MJF on a great day could make it close but probably still lose. However every one of those players is a better clay court player than some of the French Opens Evert won had to face in the entire draw. Pretty much never at the French Open until very young Graf and Sabatini emerged by 1986 at the end of Everts run, would Evert have faced someone better than any of those players before the semis. There was simply no depth on clay in the 70s or even the first half of the 80s compared to the 90s. Mary Carillo likes to speak of she aint knocking down tomatoe cans as a term, almost everyone Evert was knocking down throughout her career on clay was a tomatoe can on that surface.

boredone3456
04-23-2009, 09:46 AM
You already acknowledge 4 women who could pose some real challenge to Evert on clay though- Graf, Seles, Sanchez, and Sabatini. Not neccessarily have the edge of course, but pose some legit competition. Evert always faced somewhere between 0-2 women who posed some real challenge to her on clay, more times in her career 0 than 2. So that alone shows which era would have tougher competition on clay.

Yes I do acknowledge those 4, and in terms of they would likely do against Evert on clay I would rank them:

1. Graf
2. Seles
3. Vicario
4. Sabatini

Sabatini, while technically talented mentally wouldn't really be consistant and I think would be lucky to win 1 out of 4 matches with Evert because I could see Chris cracking Gabby. Sure Sabatini could give Evert trouble, Sabatini could give everyone trouble during a match, but could she close Evert out...in my opinion that would be the achilles heel that would stop Sabatini.

Vicario, talented and a good mover, a fighter, but she did have trouble closing out matches at times and Evert would ponce on that, factor in Evert's constant pressure and steely defense, Arantxa would have a hard time consistantly putting the ball past Evert, but like I said they would have some close battles, personally I say Evert gets the edge, but that is just my opinion.

Seles and Graf I think I covered. I will say the 90's had more clay court depth, and give Evert a draw with Sabatini, Arantxa, Graf or Seles and then say she has to play 2 or 3 back to back yes she would naturally have a harder time because the majority of the players she faced were grass court type players. Than add in someone like Pierce who was sort of a Deus ex Machina type player when she was on and yes its harder, but Everts game I think could cope. Like I said, no way Evert wins 7 Frenches in the 90's, I understand that, but with her around Graf, Seles and Vicario wouldn't exactly be thrilled either you know? They wouldn't likely get as much eitther with her around and I think they (Evert, Graf, Seles) would likely trade off clay court titles in their primes depending on draws and such. Vicario, Sabatini, Pierce would be outsiders looking in and definitely a potential problem, not a cataclysmic one but definitely a problem and would deifintely get the odd title themselves depening on who showed where.

BTURNER
04-23-2009, 09:50 AM
I think I have figured out my question. Graf has the best red clay record ever, with 9 Germans and 6 RG considering the more consistently deep fields with comfortable dirtballers. Evert has the best all around clay record. It's all those Har-tru clay titles, including the US opens with better draws, she adds to the European ones, with nary a loss on either, and so few sets lost that trumps the deeper fields at RG. I assert that from 1973-1986,taking both clay tours into account, Evert was the best clay courter at either ne or the other and most of the time both, every year except 1984 when Navraitlova blasted her out of the water on both Har-tru and Red in straight sets. Graf just can't say that.

flying24
04-23-2009, 10:05 AM
Lets compare the best clay courters of the Graf era to the 81-86 Evert era on clay shall we:

1. Navratilova vs Seles- Even with the Seles stabbing Graf had to face 3 years of prime Seles on clay 1990-1992. Evert had to face only 3 years of prime Navratilova. The two never played on clay in 1982 and 1983 so that leaves only 1984-1986. As far as tougher competition I would take 3 years of prime Seles over 3 years of prime Navratilova on clay anyday. For the record Navratilova on clay in 1981 and earlier was nothing on the surface (the 1975 field where Martina was in the final was a ghost field), and added to that they never even played each other on clay in 1982 and 1983 (their only match on clay from 1976 to 1983 in fact was a double bagel for Evert on clay in 1981) is why I have no need to even mention her again other than here.

2. Mandlikova vs Sanchez Vicario- Sanchez Vicario is much greater, much more consistent, and a much tougher opponent than Hana on clay. Hana might be the better player overall but on clay there is no comparision.

3. Jaeger 81-83/Maleeva 84-86 vs Sabatini- Since Jaeger was gone after 1983 and Maleeva emerged in 1984 they split the #3 clay courter of the 81-86 part 2 of Evert era on clay. Again prime Sabatini vs prime Maleeva or Jaeger on clay. No contest, prime Sabatini easily.

4. Aging Evert 1987-1989/Martinez 1991-1996 vs broken bodied Austin 82-83/Carling Bassett 1984-1986. It is going to get scary from here I can see. I already cringe that I couldnt think of anyone better on clay than this to put this high for the 81-86 period. Anyway another easy win for the Graf era clay court field.

5. Zvereva 87-90/Capriati 91-93/Pierce 94-96 vs ummmmm what is left of 81-86 now. Claudia Kohde Kilsch the gangly serve and volleyer or Mima Jausovec 81-83/Sukova 84-86 or Ruzici 81-83/baby versions of Graf and Sabatini of 84-85.

6. Mary Joe Fernandez vs....do I really need to continue further, LOL!

Now does anyone really want me to go to the 74-80 field on clay which was 5x worse than the 81-86 field.

flying24
04-23-2009, 10:10 AM
Yes I do acknowledge those 4, and in terms of they would likely do against Evert on clay I would rank them:

1. Graf
2. Seles
3. Vicario
4. Sabatini

Sabatini, while technically talented mentally wouldn't really be consistant and I think would be lucky to win 1 out of 4 matches with Evert because I could see Chris cracking Gabby. Sure Sabatini could give Evert trouble, Sabatini could give everyone trouble during a match, but could she close Evert out...in my opinion that would be the achilles heel that would stop Sabatini.

Vicario, talented and a good mover, a fighter, but she did have trouble closing out matches at times and Evert would ponce on that, factor in Evert's constant pressure and steely defense, Arantxa would have a hard time consistantly putting the ball past Evert, but like I said they would have some close battles, personally I say Evert gets the edge, but that is just my opinion.

Seles and Graf I think I covered. I will say the 90's had more clay court depth, and give Evert a draw with Sabatini, Arantxa, Graf or Seles and then say she has to play 2 or 3 back to back yes she would naturally have a harder time because the majority of the players she faced were grass court type players. Than add in someone like Pierce who was sort of a Deus ex Machina type player when she was on and yes its harder, but Everts game I think could cope. Like I said, no way Evert wins 7 Frenches in the 90's, I understand that, but with her around Graf, Seles and Vicario wouldn't exactly be thrilled either you know? They wouldn't likely get as much eitther with her around and I think they (Evert, Graf, Seles) would likely trade off clay court titles in their primes depending on draws and such. Vicario, Sabatini, Pierce would be outsiders looking in and definitely a potential problem, not a cataclysmic one but definitely a problem and would deifintely get the odd title themselves depening on who showed where.

I think overall your accessment is excellent and spot on. I think your breakdown is balanced and very fair to all the players. I agree on Sabatini imparticular. She IMO would do similar vs Evert to what she did vs Graf and Seles. She would beat her in some tier 1 events on clay, at the French she would play her tough most of the time but she would probably never have to nerve or mental toughness that comes anywhere near Evert to actually close the match out. Actually in her pre-prime days she was already playing some matches vs Evert on clay like that in 1985- 1986. More mature she would do even better but overall her general fate vs Evert on clay would be similar to what it was vs Graf and Seles I suspect.

Arafel
04-23-2009, 10:34 AM
In the 80s while still in her prime Chris Evert suffered losses in huge matches on clay like tier 1 finals and slam semifinals to players such as Jaeger, Garrison, and Maleeva. Sabatini, Martinez, Pierce, even Mary Joe Fernandez are all superior clay courters to those players (maybe Jaeger over MJF). That being said I can say with total confidence Evert would probably suffer a loss at some point to all the players I named, in the case of Sabatini especialy probably multiple losses in non French Open events.

Any idea that Sanchez Vicario wouldnt get numerous wins over even a prime Evert on clay I find simply impossible. Sanchez Vicario is a much better clay courter than anyone Evert faced on clay except for maybe Navratilova, and there are many who would even rata ASV over Navratilova on clay. Myself I am not as certain on that, but at the very least she lasted alot longer as a big threat on clay than Martina ever did. Evert would not be able to overpower Sanchez Vicario as effectively as Graf and Seles did, and she is definitely quicker and arguably plays even better overall defense than Evert. She is almost as smart and mentally tough a player as Evert is. Evert is technically sounder, especialy off the forehand side. Evert would have her hands full with a prime Sanchez Vicario on clay. Overall Evert would be better, but Sanchez would hand her multiple losses on clay if they were in their mutual primes. I would bet money on that. Out of Graf, Seles, and Evert, Seles is the one who would have the easiest time with a prime Sanchez on clay. I expect Sanchez might well give Evert similar trouble to what she gave Graf on the surface, though the problems she presents for both are completely different. BTW when Evert beat Sanchez at the French Evert was still a top 5 player and almost nobody had even heard of Sanchez before. Absolutely nobody expected Sanchez to win that match. The last thing I would say is that match took place at a time Evert was supposed to be at some disadvantage.

Oh yeah after saying all that Sanchez is still only the distant 3rd greatest clay court player of the Graf era behind Graf and Seles.

I find it interesting that you are saying a 30 year old Evert, who had been on the tour for 14 years, is in her "prime." Evert's true prime is probably 75-79, not the 80s, as you would suggest.

flying24
04-23-2009, 11:09 AM
For anyone interested here are the draws of some of Everts French Open title wins:

1974 French Open:

1R def. Regina Marsikova 6-1, 6-4
2R def. Virginia Ruzici 6-2, 6-3
3R def. Victoria Baldovinos 6-2, 6-2
QF def. Julie Heldman 6-0, 7-5
SF def. Helga Niessen Masthoff 7-5, 6-4
F def. Olga Morozova 6-1, 6-2


1975 French Open:

2R def. Carmen Perea 6-2, 6-2
3R def. Mima Jausovec 6-2, 6-3
4R def. Renata Tomanova 6-3, 6-2
QF def. Kazuko Sawamatsu 6-2, 6-2
SF def. Olga Morozova 6-4, 6-0
F def. Martina Navratilova 2-6, 6-2, 6-1


1979 French Open:

2R def. Kate Latham 6-1, 6-0
3R def. Laura DuPont 6-3, 6-3
4R def. Ivanna Madruga 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
QF def. Ruta Gerulaitis 6-0. 6-4
SF def. Dianne Fromholtz 6-1, 6-3
F def. Wendy Turnbull 6-2, 6-0


1980 French Open:

1R def. Caroline Franch 6-0, 6-0
2R def. Pam Teeguarden 6-1, 6-1
3R def. Bettina Bunge 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
QF def. Kathy Jordan 6-2, 6-0
SF def. Hana Mandlikova 6-7, 6-2, 6-2
F def. Virginia Ruzici 6-0, 6-3

For those who might be shocked in thinking Navratilova as early as 1975 was a truly formidable clay courter here is Navratilovas draw to that 1975 final:

1R def. Beatriz Araujo (Arg) 6-4 6-4
2R def. Nathalie Fuchs (Fra) 7-5 6-3
3R def. Pam Teeguarden (US) 6-2 2-6 6-3
QF def. Donna Ganz (US) 6-1 6-1
SF def. Janet Newberry (US) 6-2 6-3
F l/t. Chris Evert (US) 6-2 2-6 1-6

Janet Newburry is the same one who Martina still refers to as her worst and most humiliating loss ever when badly out of shape and still struggling with her emotions from the defection she lost to her in the 1st round of the 1975 U.S Open. In her own book she refers to Janet as a workaday pro. Yet that was her semifinal opponent of this French Open to reach the final.

BTURNER
04-23-2009, 01:47 PM
1975 US Open list of seeds and how they did ( only 8 seeded)
1. Evert champ 2. Wade Sf 3.Navratilova SF 4. Goolagong F 5. Court QF 6. Morazova 2nd Rd 7. Durr 2nd rd 8. Heldman. 2nd rd.

Evert vs Hunt 6-1 6-0, Chlyveva 6-0 6-3, Overton 6-0 6-1, Reid 6-2 6-1, Navratilova 6-4 6-4 Goolagong 5-7 6-4 6-2.

1976 Open list of top 10 seeds and how they did ( 16 seeded)
1.Evert champ 2. Goolagong F 3. Navratilova 1st rd 4. Wade 2nd rd 5. Richey 2nd rd 6. Casals QF 7. Reid 2nd rd 8. Morazova 3rd rd 9. Barker 4h rd 10. Fromholz SF

Ist rd a Bye, then Evert vs Steven 6-1 6-0, Goles 6-0 6-0, Barker 6-1 6-0, Chmyreva 6-1 6-2, Jausevic 6-3 6-1, Goolagong 6-3 6-0

1977 Open list of top 10 seeds and how they did ( 16 seeded)
1. Evert champ 2. Navratilova SF 3. Wade QF 4. Barker 3rd rd 5. Stove SF 6. Casals 4th rd 7. King QF 8. Fromholz 4th rd 9. Reid 4th rd 10. Jausevic QF ( Turnbull the finalist was 12 seeded)

Evert vs Walsh 6-1 6-0, Whytcross 6-0 6-0, Anliot 6-2 6-2, Richey 6-3 6-0, King 6-2 6-0, Stove 6-3 7-5, Turnbull 7-6 6-2

She lost one set in three years, That kind of dominance works well, even into the eighties, in crushing hopes of inspired talent.

CEvertFan
04-23-2009, 05:42 PM
In the 80s while still in her prime Chris Evert suffered losses in huge matches on clay like tier 1 finals and slam semifinals to players such as Jaeger, Garrison, and Maleeva. Sabatini, Martinez, Pierce, even Mary Joe Fernandez are all superior clay courters to those players (maybe Jaeger over MJF). That being said I can say with total confidence Evert would probably suffer a loss at some point to all the players I named, in the case of Sabatini especialy probably multiple losses in non French Open events.

Any idea that Sanchez Vicario wouldnt get numerous wins over even a prime Evert on clay I find simply impossible. Sanchez Vicario is a much better clay courter than anyone Evert faced on clay except for maybe Navratilova, and there are many who would even rata ASV over Navratilova on clay. Myself I am not as certain on that, but at the very least she lasted alot longer as a big threat on clay than Martina ever did. Evert would not be able to overpower Sanchez Vicario as effectively as Graf and Seles did, and she is definitely quicker and arguably plays even better overall defense than Evert. She is almost as smart and mentally tough a player as Evert is. Evert is technically sounder, especialy off the forehand side. Evert would have her hands full with a prime Sanchez Vicario on clay. Overall Evert would be better, but Sanchez would hand her multiple losses on clay if they were in their mutual primes. I would bet money on that. Out of Graf, Seles, and Evert, Seles is the one who would have the easiest time with a prime Sanchez on clay. I expect Sanchez might well give Evert similar trouble to what she gave Graf on the surface, though the problems she presents for both are completely different. BTW when Evert beat Sanchez at the French Evert was still a top 5 player and almost nobody had even heard of Sanchez before. Absolutely nobody expected Sanchez to win that match. The last thing I would say is that match took place at a time Evert was supposed to be at some disadvantage.

Oh yeah after saying all that Sanchez is still only the distant 3rd greatest clay court player of the Graf era behind Graf and Seles.

Why is it one can excuse Graf when she lost to Sanchez-Vicario and Sabatini and Seles in '89 and '90 because she was having all these off court distractions with her father but you give no credence to the fact that Evert's marriage to John Lloyd was literally falling apart in the 80s and they even separated a couple of times before finally calling it a day. Evert's greatest strength was always her mental toughness and focus, but something that big had to distract even her.

grafselesfan
04-23-2009, 05:47 PM
Why is it one can excuse Graf when she lost to Sanchez-Vicario and Sabatini and Seles in '89 and '90 because she was having all these off court distractions with her father but you give no credence to the fact that Evert's marriage to John Lloyd was literally falling apart in the 80s and they even separated a couple of times before finally calling it a day. Evert's greatest strength was always her mental toughness and focus, but something that big had to distract even her.

Where did I say anything about Graf losing to Sanchez and Seles in the 89 and 90 finals for the reasons you stated. Graf was beaten both those days fair and square. Both were close matches she had every chance to win but on the big points she uncharacteristicaly failed those days, while her very worthy opponents who are great clay courters themselves played them better. That is all I would say about those two losses. I never hinted I thought she lost those by off court distractions. I am never one who would make an excuse for every loss Steffi has ever had. I do think she is the female GOAT but I dont think she is some superwomen who could never lose a match. Heck she lost to McNeil once at Wimbledon and almost lost to DeSwardt at Wimbledon one other year, which are far worse showings than losing to Seles or Sanchez in French Open finals.

Everts straight set losses on clay to Jaeger, Garrison, and Maleeva stretched out from 1982 to 1985. Are you saying she was off form that whole time. That wasnt to suggest Evert isnt an amazing clay courter or that she isnt by far better than those players even though she has lost to them on clay, just that she is not some superwomen who would never once lose to an opponent other than Navratilova, Graf, or Seles on the surface. Given the depth of the 90s clay court field there were alot of women better than Garrison or Maleeva atleast ever were on the surface. Of course none of them other than Graf or Seles were in her league overall on the surface but there would be alot more overall competition starting with Graf and Seles of course, then Sanchez, then Sabatini, then working down from there. A better overall field of clay courters which provide more overall competition IMO which is what this thread is expressing ones opinion one way or the other about anyway.

suwanee4712
04-24-2009, 05:32 AM
No offense but I have to laugh at whatever you are trying to imply by even saying that. Novotna is probably about the 10th best clay courter of the Graf era, and that might be kind. She made 2 semis there in her long career, where she was spanked by Graf and Sanchez. Tons of early first week losses there, no tier 1 titles on clay that I know of. Hana was the 2nd best clay courter Evert ever faced from 1974 to 1986 on the surface, after only Martina in the 80s. I would sure hope the 2nd best clay court comeptition Evert faced in over a decade of clay court dominance was harder than around the 10th best clay courter of the Graf-Seles era. Maybe you are just comparing them as they play similar games, but nobody has ever suggested Novotna was as good a player as Hana, least of all on clay which was Janas worst surface by an even bigger margin than Hana.


I should've clarified that the intention of my post was to think of players (and their styles of play) that beat Evert on clay and then find some sort of reasonable counterpart in the 90's. The only baseliners to beat Evert in Paris were Jaeger and Sanchez. 90's Maleeva is about the closest that I could get style-wise to Jaeger. It's a crude comparison, but I didn't have a lot to work with. Perhaps a better comparison to Jaeger would've been Mary Joe who was a French r/u.

Most of the losses that Evert took in Paris came to attacking players like Court, Martina, and Hana. The only player with that style of play in the 90's that could even be mentioned was Jana. I made a direct comparison with Hana because they were more similar than the others in my opinion, except that Hana had the variety in her game that could at least occasionally trouble Chris in Paris. But maybe in terms of quality opponent, I should've compared Hana to Gaby. However, on clay, their styles don't match up well.

If I have time today I may go through and pick out the French semi finalists during Evert's years and the semi finalists during Graf's years. That might be a good way of clarifying the differences in competition. I haven't thought that out yet, so it could actually end up changing my mind and giving Graf's clay competition the nod.

suwanee4712
04-24-2009, 06:28 AM
Lets compare the best clay courters of the Graf era to the 81-86 Evert era on clay shall we:

1. Navratilova vs Seles- Even with the Seles stabbing Graf had to face 3 years of prime Seles on clay 1990-1992. Evert had to face only 3 years of prime Navratilova. The two never played on clay in 1982 and 1983 so that leaves only 1984-1986. As far as tougher competition I would take 3 years of prime Seles over 3 years of prime Navratilova on clay anyday. For the record Navratilova on clay in 1981 and earlier was nothing on the surface (the 1975 field where Martina was in the final was a ghost field), and added to that they never even played each other on clay in 1982 and 1983 (their only match on clay from 1976 to 1983 in fact was a double bagel for Evert on clay in 1981) is why I have no need to even mention her again other than here.

2. Mandlikova vs Sanchez Vicario- Sanchez Vicario is much greater, much more consistent, and a much tougher opponent than Hana on clay. Hana might be the better player overall but on clay there is no comparision.

3. Jaeger 81-83/Maleeva 84-86 vs Sabatini- Since Jaeger was gone after 1983 and Maleeva emerged in 1984 they split the #3 clay courter of the 81-86 part 2 of Evert era on clay. Again prime Sabatini vs prime Maleeva or Jaeger on clay. No contest, prime Sabatini easily.

4. Aging Evert 1987-1989/Martinez 1991-1996 vs broken bodied Austin 82-83/Carling Bassett 1984-1986. It is going to get scary from here I can see. I already cringe that I couldnt think of anyone better on clay than this to put this high for the 81-86 period. Anyway another easy win for the Graf era clay court field.

5. Zvereva 87-90/Capriati 91-93/Pierce 94-96 vs ummmmm what is left of 81-86 now. Claudia Kohde Kilsch the gangly serve and volleyer or Mima Jausovec 81-83/Sukova 84-86 or Ruzici 81-83/baby versions of Graf and Sabatini of 84-85.

6. Mary Joe Fernandez vs....do I really need to continue further, LOL!

Now does anyone really want me to go to the 74-80 field on clay which was 5x worse than the 81-86 field.



Here are my opinions on these matchups. Take it for what it's worth.

As competition for Chris:

Navratilova vs. Seles - these are two drastically differently styled players. Martina's game was built and very much suited to beating Chris's game. That's regardless of surface. Their clashes on clay from 1984 to 1987 were usually some of their best and most memorable matches, and that's a credit to Martina. With Seles, I think she's very similar to Chris on clay. The only difference being that she hit harder (in an era of racquet differences) and with more topspin. But both were some of the best players at using angles and hitting behind an opponent to win a point. I'm getting all excited now about seeing a Chris of 1985 or 1986 vs. Seles of 1991 or 1992 on clay. BTW, I'm sure that I give Martina a better chance of beating Seles in Paris than most here do.

Mandlikova vs. Sanchez Vicario - In a direct comparison, I definitely think that Mandlikova was the bigger threat to the top players than ASV was. ASV didn't beat top players when they were playing well. She had to rely on others missing too much. Does anyone really think that a prime Evert would miss much vs. a prime ASV? Hana's clay court prowess is underestimated as well. She had several close matches with Chris at the French besides her 1981 win. I wish that Hana had made it a bigger priority to win titles like Hilton Head or the Italian, but she didn't. Across the board, it's clear that she lived for grand slam play and didn't put much emphasis on regular tour stops. However, when she got to Paris, she meant business and more times than not, she exceeded her seeding. A match between she and Sanchez would be a great match in my opinion. Maybe not unlike Hana's match with Austin at the 1982 French.

Jaeger vs. Sabatini - Gaby's the one with the slam. Although it came at a horrible time for Steffi (surely even Graf fans would admit this) and she didn't even play particularly well to win it. Had Jaeger gotten that kind of break in slam play, she very well could've won one as well. As it was her career was short, but she had enough wins over the top players to suspect that a full career would've looked something like Gaby's. On clay, Gaby never even a French final. She only played Steffi there 3 times. So you guys can't say that she underachieved at the French because Steffi was so great. I don't have any problems with anyone giving Gaby the nod here in this comparison. But I don't think there's any evidence that suggests Gaby was a noticeable superior player on clay than Jaeger was.

Maleeva vs. Mary Joe - I like Mary Joe in a direct comparison in this one because she's slightly more aggressive. However, whether or not she would be more competition for Chris than Maleeva was on clay? I don't know. Maleeva's best play vs. Chris was her changes in pace. Mary Joe didn't necessarily have that facet. She hit hard and flat just like Chris. The difference being Chris did it far better than MJF did.

I"m not sure I understand the aging Evert/Martinez vs. Austin and Bassett scenerio. I'll just leave it as Martinez vs. Austin. Austin hands down. This one isn't even close. In fact, it's almost unfair to Martinez compare her to Austin in my opinion. Conchita was too lazy and sloppy to have been a consistent threat to Chris on clay. Chris would've exposed all of those weaknesses and Martinez would've given up. Austin? The Italian final from 1979 is probably a good hint as to how a Paris matchup might've gone.

Zvereva? Pierce? I don't think either would've won many matches with Chris on clay. Zvereva would've been a routine Claudia Kohde type match. With Mary, mabye it's a bit like Hana in that it depends on how well Mary plays. But more times than not Mary would make way too many errors to beat Chris.

Capriati? Perhaps she's a better comparison to Austin. Because I could see Chris having problems vs. JC in the same kind of ways that she struggled with Austin. Although if you consider only their games, I think Chris could extract more errors from JC than TA.


As competition for Graf:

Martina/Seles - we only saw Graf play Martina once in Paris, and I'm glad I lived to see it. It's one of my favorite Graf wins of all time. To me, it's more impressive than Graf's win at Wimbledon 88. Likewise, Seles' win over Steffi in 1992 was another of my fav all time matches. But I'll say that Seles was the tougher match for Steffi in Paris - but only if her backhand holds up, which it did in 1987.

Hana/ASV - Well, Hana was 1-0 vs. Graf in Paris when Steffi was really starting to be good. I know, I know Steffi had match point. But Hana never gets enough credit for this win considering that when her back was against the wall she started hitting winners. The third set was one Hana winner after another it seemed. Still, could Hana beat Steffi in a French Open final? I don't think so. I give this to Sanchez.

Jaeger/Gaby - The 1987 French semi with Gaby is another match I like to pull out and watch from time to time. People always say that Gaby should've won, and maybe she should have. But here we saw why Steffi won 20 something slams and Gaby only won 1. Their other matches in Paris were easy wins for Steffi. I relish the thought of a match between Jaeger and Steffi. AJ was of German decent and thus she loved playing the German and against German players. Does she have the tools to beat Steffi in Paris? I don't think so. But neither did Gaby. Perhaps a draw here.

Maleeva/MJF - Mary Joe had her chances in Paris in 1993. Frankly, she gave Steffi a tougher match than I thought she could. But then I remembered that MJF also pushed her at the German that year. Graf was a terrible matchup for Maleeva whereas Chris was not. I'll say that MJF had a better shot in Paris.

Austin/Martinez - Austin was the mentally tougher player by far. Her game was formidable and could've proven a problem for Steffi. If Martinez can take Steffi to 3 sets in Paris, then I would not be surprised if Tracy could actually get a win over her. But make no mistake about it, I think Steffi would've handled Tracy on red clay more times than not. Perhaps a more hard court like Har Tru would've been better for Tracy vs. Steffi. But that's not what the French is played on.

Okay, I think I give the nod to Steffi's era. In the 90's, the top players from the womens game were mostly European. So it probably makes sense that Steffi's competition in Paris was deeper and better. But because Austin, Mandlikova, and Jaeger compare well to Sanchez, Martinez, and Sabatini, I don't think it's by much.

gj011
04-24-2009, 06:49 AM
Troll thread.

Evert is the clear clay GOAT. Three of six Graf's FO titles have an asterisk because of Seles stabbing (1993, 1995 and 1996).

BTURNER
04-24-2009, 07:00 AM
I never saw Hana play on clay but I sure saw her play. while she does have a reasonable record with wins over both Evert and Graf, I just don't see how she did it. I grant that her serve and second serve would be effective on clay and her touch shots both from the back and the forecourt but her forehand had little margin for error, and her shot selection was always suspect as was her concentration during longer rallies/ matches. She had too many good wins for me to be right but....how does she beat such great clay courters,?

Lionheart392
04-24-2009, 07:06 AM
I never saw Hana play on clay but I sure saw her play. while she does have a reasonable record with wins over both Evert and Graf, I just don't see how she did it. I grant that her serve and second serve would be effective on clay and her touch shots both from the back and the forecourt but her forehand had little margin for error, and her shot selection was always suspect as was her concentration during longer rallies/ matches. She had too many good wins for me to be right but....how does she beat such great clay courters,?

I think she was one of those players that when she was at her best, she was extremely difficult to beat. Unfortunately she wasn't at her best nearly often enough. Her inconsistency was probably her biggest hindrance.

BTURNER
04-24-2009, 08:09 AM
Hana also has two wins over Jaeger, a win over Austin, and won every time she played Sabatini on clay.

suwanee4712
04-24-2009, 08:09 AM
I never saw Hana play on clay but I sure saw her play. while she does have a reasonable record with wins over both Evert and Graf, I just don't see how she did it. I grant that her serve and second serve would be effective on clay and her touch shots both from the back and the forecourt but her forehand had little margin for error, and her shot selection was always suspect as was her concentration during longer rallies/ matches. She had too many good wins for me to be right but....how does she beat such great clay courters,?


You're right. But it's so Hana-like when you think about it. She's one of those players that it's hard to put a finger on as to why anything happens as it does.

Hana should've been a better Wimbledon player than she was a French player. But she wasn't. She also should've been better on faster Har Tru than she was red clay. Again, she wasn't. I think she played a lot better on clay when the weather was warmer and the conditions were lighter. That seems certainly true of her record at Wimbledon too. She didn't like windy conditions or heavy balls.

I think red clay has properties that made her stay within herself more. In my opinion, she was much more controlled when she played on red clay. Even though she herself says she wasn't patient enough. But one of her notorious weaknesses was shot selection. I think she had more time on clay to pick the right one than she sometimes did on faster surfaces where she was made to pay more often.

I also think that red clay allowed Hana to use all of the variety of her game. She hit a lot of topsin strokes off both sides and for whatever reason her drop shots were more effective. She came to the net when she had the opening, playing far fewer of the kamikaze type approaches that would get her killed in so many of her US Open matches with Chris.

I was fortunate enough to see Hana play Chris on red clay 4 times. Only one was a bad match and that's 1986 when she tried to play Chris as she would on a hard court and attacked too much. She might have changed up her style because of the pinky injury she suffered vs. Graf and aggravated in the first set vs. Chris. Funny enough, I think Martina totally misplayed Chris too in the finals that year, but in a different way. She tried to beat her from the baseline when she should've tried to rush and panic Chris into making more mistakes like she did in 1984.

Another quirky fact is that the only surface that Hana didn't beat Martina on was clay. Their 1984 French semi was a sight to behold. They treated the clay court like it was grass. And it was a high quality match with lots of winner being hit on both sides of the net. What cost Hana that match was that she missed too many first serves and stayed back too often on her second serve.

She did have the bad loss to Kohde in 1985. Claudia always played Hana well for whatever reason. But her losses from 87-89 are more understandable. The spring of 1987 was the beginning of her hamstring situation that ultimately pushed her off the tour for 6 months in 1988. We also now know that Hana missed Wimbledon 1987 to have an abortion. So maybe that played into her loss to Herreman too.

BTURNER
04-24-2009, 10:29 AM
LOL NOTHING makes any sense when it comes to Hana. Evert always said that the more time Hana had to pick her shot with the most options available, the more screwy she got! "Too many choices'" to use Evert's exact wording. She was most dangerous on the run. Mandlikova was nothing if not contradictory. I did enjoy watching her. That US open final with Martina was incredible shotmaking. Who else could win a war of blatant boldness against Navratilova?

flying24
04-24-2009, 01:24 PM
I"m not sure I understand the aging Evert/Martinez vs. Austin and Bassett scenerio. I'll just leave it as Martinez vs. Austin. Austin hands down. This one isn't even close. In fact, it's almost unfair to Martinez compare her to Austin in my opinion. Conchita was too lazy and sloppy to have been a consistent threat to Chris on clay. Chris would've exposed all of those weaknesses and Martinez would've given up. Austin? The Italian final from 1979 is probably a good hint as to how a Paris matchup might've gone.

I completely dont understand your response at all, and you totally are misrepresenting what I was saying. I never once implied Austin in her prime of 1979-1981 hypotheticaly playing regularly on clay (which she never did anyway those years) wouldnt be superior to Martinez in her prime on clay. I was referring to Austin of 82-83 only since that is the only time she hardly ever played on clay or was in tournaments Chris was in on clay, plus I was analyzing competition from 81-86 in my posts, and Austin only played one clay court tournament in all of 1981 which yet again Chris wasnt in.

Even though I was only discussing 1981 and beyond, Tracy and Chris were only in the same clay court tournament together once in 1979-1980 too, and Chris lost that one match. Tracy played only two clay court tournaments in 1979, 1 of 2 which Chris was in (the aforementioned loss for Chris), only one clay court tournament in 1980 which Chris wasnt in, and 1 clay court tournament in 1981 again which Chris wasnt in. So basically there is no way to consider Tracy a direct opponent of Chris on clay during Tracy's prime from 1979-1981, and so only the player she was on clay from 1982-1983 matters to what I was talking about and I specified that already in my first post.

Of course prime Austin would very likely be superior to Martinez even on clay. However 1982-1983, the only time Tracy was in some draws with Chris on clay (yet still only played 4 clay court events in 82-83 combined due to injuries anyway) she would not be, not even close in fact. Tracy Austin was already a giant shadow of herself by then. I have no doubts whatsoever a prime Conchita Martinez would have easily beat Tracy of 1982-1983 on clay. A prime Martinez would not be losing to Jo Durie at the French Open for example.

If prime Austin had actually been playing on clay and playing in tournaments with Chris on clay from 1979-1981 of course Chris's competition would be improved on clay, and her dominant record would likely be decreased as well (and quite possibly Chris's French Open record had Tracy played the French in 1979 and 1980 given her ownership of Chris those two years).

So again aging Evert 1987-1989/1991-1996 Martinez > broken bodied Austin 1982-1983/Basset 1984-1986 on clay easily.

Since I see you noted a hypothetical matchup with Steffi as well:

Austin/Martinez - Austin was the mentally tougher player by far. Her game was formidable and could've proven a problem for Steffi. If Martinez can take Steffi to 3 sets in Paris, then I would not be surprised if Tracy could actually get a win over her. But make no mistake about it, I think Steffi would've handled Tracy on red clay more times than not. Perhaps a more hard court like Har Tru would've been better for Tracy vs. Steffi. But that's not what the French is played on.

This would be a good analogy of Tracy of 1979-1981, but Tracy Austin NEVER played a French Open from 1979-1981 (along with only 4 total tournaments on clay as I said) so it doesnt matter how Tracy of 1979-1981 might matchup vs Steffi Graf at the French Open as she was never there. Only Tracy of 1982-1983, the only two years she even played the French Open, could be discussed in a hypothetical matchup assuming we are talking a reality hypothetical. The only version of Tracy Austin which actually played at the French Open, one which is less than half the player she was from 1979-1981 and one who really ought to have accepted her cruel fate and retired already rather than dragging out through 2 years of part time stop-and-go tennis on a beat up body, would be spanked by Steffi Graf or even probably Conchita Martinez (especialy the 1995 Conchita Martinez which took Steffi to 3 sets) at the French Open. Too bad Tracy never once played the French Open when she still the real Tracy Austin. It would have been interesting to see what exactly she could have done.

The funniest thing of all though is Evert vs prime Austin on clay is almost as much a complete hypothetical as prime Austin vs Graf on clay it turns out.

DMan
04-24-2009, 10:31 PM
Troll thread.

Evert is the clear clay GOAT. Three of six Graf's FO titles have an asterisk because of Seles stabbing (1993, 1995 and 1996).

Ahhh...I see one troll was hungry and had to go feeding somewhere. The sour grapes weren't filling enough, eh gj ? ? ?

dannykl
04-25-2009, 05:26 AM
Lets compare the best clay courters of the Graf era to the 81-86 Evert era on clay shall we:

1. Navratilova vs Seles- Even with the Seles stabbing Graf had to face 3 years of prime Seles on clay 1990-1992. Evert had to face only 3 years of prime Navratilova. The two never played on clay in 1982 and 1983 so that leaves only 1984-1986. As far as tougher competition I would take 3 years of prime Seles over 3 years of prime Navratilova on clay anyday. For the record Navratilova on clay in 1981 and earlier was nothing on the surface (the 1975 field where Martina was in the final was a ghost field), and added to that they never even played each other on clay in 1982 and 1983 (their only match on clay from 1976 to 1983 in fact was a double bagel for Evert on clay in 1981) is why I have no need to even mention her again other than here.

2. Mandlikova vs Sanchez Vicario- Sanchez Vicario is much greater, much more consistent, and a much tougher opponent than Hana on clay. Hana might be the better player overall but on clay there is no comparision.

3. Jaeger 81-83/Maleeva 84-86 vs Sabatini- Since Jaeger was gone after 1983 and Maleeva emerged in 1984 they split the #3 clay courter of the 81-86 part 2 of Evert era on clay. Again prime Sabatini vs prime Maleeva or Jaeger on clay. No contest, prime Sabatini easily.

4. Aging Evert 1987-1989/Martinez 1991-1996 vs broken bodied Austin 82-83/Carling Bassett 1984-1986. It is going to get scary from here I can see. I already cringe that I couldnt think of anyone better on clay than this to put this high for the 81-86 period. Anyway another easy win for the Graf era clay court field.

5. Zvereva 87-90/Capriati 91-93/Pierce 94-96 vs ummmmm what is left of 81-86 now. Claudia Kohde Kilsch the gangly serve and volleyer or Mima Jausovec 81-83/Sukova 84-86 or Ruzici 81-83/baby versions of Graf and Sabatini of 84-85.

6. Mary Joe Fernandez vs....do I really need to continue further, LOL!

Now does anyone really want me to go to the 74-80 field on clay which was 5x worse than the 81-86 field.

Very impressive comparison, I'm convinced now that Steffi/Monica do have a much deeper competition than Chris.

DMan
04-25-2009, 11:46 AM
I completely dont understand your response at all, and you totally are misrepresenting what I was saying. I never once implied Austin in her prime of 1979-1981 hypotheticaly playing regularly on clay (which she never did anyway those years) wouldnt be superior to Martinez in her prime on clay. I was referring to Austin of 82-83 only since that is the only time she hardly ever played on clay or was in tournaments Chris was in on clay, plus I was analyzing competition from 81-86 in my posts, and Austin only played one clay court tournament in all of 1981 which yet again Chris wasnt in.

Even though I was only discussing 1981 and beyond, Tracy and Chris were only in the same clay court tournament together once in 1979-1980 too, and Chris lost that one match. Tracy played only two clay court tournaments in 1979, 1 of 2 which Chris was in (the aforementioned loss for Chris), only one clay court tournament in 1980 which Chris wasnt in, and 1 clay court tournament in 1981 again which Chris wasnt in. So basically there is no way to consider Tracy a direct opponent of Chris on clay during Tracy's prime from 1979-1981, and so only the player she was on clay from 1982-1983 matters to what I was talking about and I specified that already in my first post.

Of course prime Austin would very likely be superior to Martinez even on clay. However 1982-1983, the only time Tracy was in some draws with Chris on clay (yet still only played 4 clay court events in 82-83 combined due to injuries anyway) she would not be, not even close in fact. Tracy Austin was already a giant shadow of herself by then. I have no doubts whatsoever a prime Conchita Martinez would have easily beat Tracy of 1982-1983 on clay. A prime Martinez would not be losing to Jo Durie at the French Open for example.

If prime Austin had actually been playing on clay and playing in tournaments with Chris on clay from 1979-1981 of course Chris's competition would be improved on clay, and her dominant record would likely be decreased as well (and quite possibly Chris's French Open record had Tracy played the French in 1979 and 1980 given her ownership of Chris those two years).

So again aging Evert 1987-1989/1991-1996 Martinez > broken bodied Austin 1982-1983/Basset 1984-1986 on clay easily.

Since I see you noted a hypothetical matchup with Steffi as well:



This would be a good analogy of Tracy of 1979-1981, but Tracy Austin NEVER played a French Open from 1979-1981 (along with only 4 total tournaments on clay as I said) so it doesnt matter how Tracy of 1979-1981 might matchup vs Steffi Graf at the French Open as she was never there. Only Tracy of 1982-1983, the only two years she even played the French Open, could be discussed in a hypothetical matchup assuming we are talking a reality hypothetical. The only version of Tracy Austin which actually played at the French Open, one which is less than half the player she was from 1979-1981 and one who really ought to have accepted her cruel fate and retired already rather than dragging out through 2 years of part time stop-and-go tennis on a beat up body, would be spanked by Steffi Graf or even probably Conchita Martinez (especialy the 1995 Conchita Martinez which took Steffi to 3 sets) at the French Open. Too bad Tracy never once played the French Open when she still the real Tracy Austin. It would have been interesting to see what exactly she could have done.

The funniest thing of all though is Evert vs prime Austin on clay is almost as much a complete hypothetical as prime Austin vs Graf on clay it turns out.

Had Austin played more on clay against Evert, Chris would have beaten her nearly every time. The 1979 Italian Open came down to a 3rd set tiebreak (Evert had a 3rd lead). At the time, Chris had just been married, and was losig a little bit of focus and her edge against Tracy. Austin was on the rise. So while a hug win for Tracy, I think it is an anomaly.

Overall Chris was a much, much better clay court player. Chris was brought up on clay. Tracy was not. That in a nutshell explains why Chris would have won most of the time. Plus Evert had much more variety, better movement and flexibility, and also had more confidence than Tracy on clay. The fact that Tracy rarely played clay events - not entering the French until 1982, shows she lacked not only the ability but the confidence to compete at the highest levels on clay.

I don't agree with the assessment that Tracy would be superior to Martinez on clay. Again, Conchita was a clay court player, capable of running down a lot of balls, playing with a lot of spin and angles. She would have jerked Tracy all over the court.

In the final analysis, Evert overall ranks higher than Graf on clay. I agree that Steffi's competition was tougher, and only one fewer French title than Chris shows that Chris was not completely in a league of her own on clay. But had Evert played in more French Opens in the 1970s she would have won more. Bottom line is she didn't.

We would never be able to see a prime Chris vs a prime Steffi on clay. It's too bad because I think it would be a terrific match up. Evert's pin point accuracy, clever use of angles, drop shots, and lobs, against Steffi's booming forehand, tough slice backhand, and tremendous defensive ability would make for a great match.

flying24
04-25-2009, 11:51 AM
Had Austin played more on clay against Evert, Chris would have beaten her nearly every time. The 1979 Italian Open came down to a 3rd set tiebreak (Evert had a 3rd lead). At the time, Chris had just been married, and was losig a little bit of focus and her edge against Tracy. Austin was on the rise. So while a hug win for Tracy, I think it is an anomaly.

Overall Chris was a much, much better clay court player. Chris was brought up on clay. Tracy was not. That in a nutshell explains why Chris would have won most of the time. Plus Evert had much more variety, better movement and flexibility, and also had more confidence than Tracy on clay. The fact that Tracy rarely played clay events - not entering the French until 1982, shows she lacked not only the ability but the confidence to compete at the highest levels on clay.

I don't agree with the assessment that Tracy would be superior to Martinez on clay. Again, Conchita was a clay court player, capable of running down a lot of balls, playing with a lot of spin and angles. She would have jerked Tracy all over the court.


So you think:

1. Tracy owned Chris winning something like 9 of their 13 matches from 1979 to 1981, won their only meeting on clay when she had barely turned 16, played virtually the exact same game style in everyway which would seem to make surfaces not that major an issue, yet was going to be no threat to her on clay. That is interesting.

2. Even a prime Tracy Austin (1979-1981 version of course) would be inferior to a prime Conchita Martinez on clay. I have already spoken to why I believe a prime Austin is irrelevant and non existant when breaking down Everts 1981-beyond competition on clay, and that I fully expect a prime Martinez would have crushed the 1982-1983 Tracy Austin on clay. However I am very surprised you think Conchita would be superior to a prime Tracy Austin (again 1979-1981 version only) on clay.

I guess you feel I vastly overrate Austin on clay though, even the Tracy in her short prime. You do make a good point of her avoiding playing on clay. From 1981 to 1983 it was because of all her injuries of course. However 1979-1980 it made no sense at all as the French and clay court season was regaining prominence again around then. So maybe you are right and she did lack confidence on the surface, and I was overrating even a prime Austin to be that formidable on clay, never mind even a much diminished Austin as Suwanee seemed to indicate.

DMan
04-25-2009, 12:18 PM
So you think:

1. Tracy owned Chris winning something like 9 of their 13 matches from 1979 to 1981, won their only meeting on clay when she had barely turned 16, played virtually the exact same game style in everyway which would seem to make surfaces not that major an issue, yet was going to be no threat to her on clay. That is interesting.

2. Even a prime Tracy Austin (1979-1981 version of course) would be inferior to a prime Conchita Martinez on clay. I have already spoken to why I believe a prime Austin is irrelevant and non existant when breaking down Everts 1981-beyond competition on clay, and that I fully expect a prime Martinez would have crushed the 1982-1983 Tracy Austin on clay. However I am very surprised you think Conchita would be superior to a prime Tracy Austin (again 1979-1981 version only) on clay.

I guess you feel I vastly overrate Austin on clay though, even the Tracy in her short prime. You do make a good point of her avoiding playing on clay. From 1981 to 1983 it was because of all her injuries of course. However 1979-1980 it made no sense at all as the French and clay court season was regaining prominence again around then. So maybe you are right and she did lack confidence on the surface, and I was overrating even a prime Austin to be that formidable on clay, never mind even a much diminished Austin as Suwanee seemed to indicate.

Age has nothing to do with Austin's win over Evert in the 1979 Italian Open. Yes, Austin had the edge over Evert from 1979-1981. And a number of the matches, most notably on carpet, were one sided. From 1979-1981 Chris lost 2 times on clay. One was to Tracy. But I still maintain that had they played more often Chris would have emerged the winner, for the aforementioned reasons that Chris was a clay courter, Tracy was not. Tracy won the Family Circle Cup in 1979 and 1980 - both times Chris did not play. Tracy never played Amelia island. And she played only a handful of European clay events in her entire career!

Tracy was a formidable player. But clay is a surface that requires not only accuracy, but being agile. Tracy was not agile. She also wasn't willing to go out of her comfort level and play on European clay (similar to many American men these days), and I do think that shows her lack of confidence on the surface.

If there were a Conchita Martinez type player around 1979-1981, I think that player would have beaten Tracy most of the time on clay. Again a player brought up on clay, willing to spin back balls, mix up the pace, use drop shots and angles, those are the type of players that could beat Tracy on clay. Graf would have crushed Austin on clay.

If Tracy felt like she could do well on European clay she would have gone over there more often. She didn't.

suwanee4712
04-25-2009, 12:54 PM
It's not like Tracy bombed on clay. She did quite well. It simply wasn't her surface of preference. And more importantly, it was a time of year that she often spent away from the tour, something that would've changed had she been able to play longer.

But she did beat Chris Evert on slow red European clay and no amount of excuse making is going to change that fact. Either beating Chris Evert on clay is a big deal, or it's not. I say it's a very big deal because there may not be another player in the Open era that had such a dominant record on a single surface as Evert did on clay.

Tracy helped win the Fed Cup on European clay. She was a 2 time QF at the French and while her loss to Durie doesn't sound great now, Durie was one of the top players during that time.

That's her relatively few exposures on that surface. And there's nothing in that record that tells me she couldn't have been successful on it, although being a California hard courter did present its challenges to her as she learned to play the surface. However, if she spent that little amount of time on it and produced those results, then I feel fairly confident in speculating that she could've been a contender at the French.

Austin vs. Martinez? Think of this in terms of Martinez being in Austin's era with a smaller head wood racquet and she would've looked an awful lot like Virginia Ruzici. Big forehand, loopy topspin backhand, with the ability to slice underneath the ball, drop shots and lobs. Or give Austin the advantages that Martinez enjoyed 10 to 15 years after Austin left the tour in 1983 and see how that might have went. To me, the huge difference would've been the mental part of the game. On any surface, Austin could've taken Martinez in a big match.

Chris said it best herself when she was asked if she was surprised that Austin could still beat a player of the calibur of K. Maleeva in 1994 more than 10 years since being on the tour full time. She, maybe more than any other opponent, knew the toughness and the mental strength of Austin. Chris wasn't surprised at all, in fact, she predicted it. Martinez had nice hands and a lot of variety to her game. But she's not on the same level as Austin in terms of constructing points, moving her opponent around, and literally willing herself to victory.

flying24
04-25-2009, 12:58 PM
I think I have more than demonstrated the Graf field on clay was significantly tougher than the Evert 1981-1986 field, however as I said that is by far the tougher field of the two halves which Evert faced. Now lets go to the 1974-1980 where most her greatest dominance on clay came: 4 of her 7 French Opens, the vaunted 125 match win streak, the utter dominance on clay which she did not have anywhere near the same extent at any point in the 80s. The numbers I post are in order from toughest opponent of each era to next toughest downwards.

1. Seles vs Goolagong on clay: do I need to say anything. By the way regarding the stabbing I would take 3 years of prime Seles on clay over 3 years of prime Goolagong (prime Goolagong vs prime Chris was only 1974-1976), and I would take the post stabbing Seles on clay over even prime Goolagong let alone the 1978-1980 Goolagong, and I would take even a 15 year old Seles over Goolagong on clay in one of her non-prime years. Next.

2. Sanchez Vicario vs 74-80 version of Navratilova on clay: From 1975 to 1981 Martina played in 5 grand slam events on clay. She started off in great style, losing to only Chris in the finals of the French and semis of the U.S Open in 1975 (although the French Open field that year was a ghost field as I said earlier). However her only other 3 slam events played on clay from 1976 to 1981 she lost to Janet Newberry, Wendy Turnbull, and Syliva Hanika. Martina and Chris only played 0 matches on clay from 1976 to 1980, in fact 0 from 1976 to 1983. They went from their last match in 1975 to their next in 1984 without even playing on clay. They played 4 times on clay in 1975, 1 time in 1974 and 1 in 1973 when Martina was just starting out on tour. This seems a no brainer. The 1975 Martina is the only Martina from 74-80 who could come close to the difficult opponent Sanchez provided Graf on clay.

3. Sabatini vs 33-35 year old Court- well considering Evert at the end of her clay court dominance lost 6-1 sets to a 14 and barely 16 year old Sabatini on clay I would like Gabys chances vs a way past her prime mid 30s Court. If the 33-34 year old Evert had played Gaby on clay and not just hard courts in 88-89 she probably would have been losing to her most times there too (she was on hard courts by then), and an aging Evert I would take over an aging Court on clay especialy given Court was the one playing one final time after 2 pregnancies. Also I feel almost generous even counting Court in anyway given that she and Evert never played a match on clay after 1973, and the 1973 French Open final and a match in 1970 were their only matches ever on clay. However they were still in the U.S Open draws together from 75-77 which is the only reason I list her.

4. Martinez vs 33-38 year old King: the only clay court slams King and Evert played were the 77 U.S Open, 80 French Open, and 82 French Open when King was 33-38 years old. 90-93 Martinez went 3-1 vs a 33-37 year old Navratilova on clay so I suspect she wouldnt have any trouble with a 33-38 year old King, a far far worse clay courter than Navratilova. The 90-92 Martinez who went 2-1 vs the aging Martina wasnt nearly as good as the 93-96 Martinez either. As a matter of fact I would take Martinez over even a prime King on clay, the same King that even a pre-prime Evert was dishing out breadsticks and bagels to sometimes. Mock Martinez all you want but she was a clay courter, King was not.

5. Pierce vs Turnbull: a punching bag for Mary to shoot at. Ok since we are discussing threats to Evert and Graf, Pierce on her good days was 5x more the threat to a top gun, particularly on clay. Turnbulls best surface should definitely be grass by alot with her playing style, her 2 slam finals being on clay was a reflection of the clay field more than anything.

6. Fernandez vs Morozova: a flash in the pan who had one or two good years vs a steady performer in the top 10 over many years.

7. Capriati vs Wade: I argued strongly in favor of Wade over Capriati in the Wade vs Capriati poll that was up, but on clay Capriati dusts Wade.

8. Maleeva vs Ruzici: Maleeva has won an Italian Open title over Evert in the final, taken many sets off of prime Evert, Seles, and Graf over the years, and been to the semis and quarters of many full field legit slams, and clay is the best surface of both. Other than winning a French in one of those nobody shows up years in the 70s what has Ruzici done to go up against this.

9. Jausovec vs Novotna- again who has made by far more impact vs the top players even on clay when they played, and had more good showings in full field French Opens (yes I do realize Mima made one final in 83 in a full field French after the draw collapsed with upsets).

As I suspected this turned out to be even more of rout than the 81-86 one. Evert may be the greatest clay courter ever but those who question her competition on clay are certainly within reason.

flying24
04-25-2009, 01:06 PM
It's not like Tracy bombed on clay. She did quite well. It simply wasn't her surface of preference. And more importantly, it was a time of year that she often spent away from the tour, something that would've changed had she been able to play longer.

But she did beat Chris Evert on slow red European clay and no amount of excuse making is going to change that fact. Either beating Chris Evert on clay is a big deal, or it's not. I say it's a very big deal because there may not be another player in the Open era that had such a dominant record on a single surface as Evert did on clay.

Tracy helped win the Fed Cup on European clay. She was a 2 time QF at the French and while her loss to Durie doesn't sound great now, Durie was one of the top players during that time.

That's her relatively few exposures on that surface. And there's nothing in that record that tells me she couldn't have been successful on it, although being a California hard courter did present its challenges to her as she learned to play the surface. However, if she spent that little amount of time on it and produced those results, then I feel fairly confident in speculating that she could've been a contender at the French.

Austin vs. Martinez? Think of this in terms of Martinez being in Austin's era with a smaller head wood racquet and she would've looked an awful lot like Virginia Ruzici. Big forehand, loopy topspin backhand, with the ability to slice underneath the ball, drop shots and lobs. Or give Austin the advantages that Martinez enjoyed 10 to 15 years after Austin left the tour in 1983 and see how that might have went. To me, the huge difference would've been the mental part of the game. On any surface, Austin could've taken Martinez in a big match.

Chris said it best herself when she was asked if she was surprised that Austin could still beat a player of the calibur of K. Maleeva in 1994 more than 10 years since being on the tour full time. She, maybe more than any other opponent, knew the toughness and the mental strength of Austin. Chris wasn't surprised at all, in fact, she predicted it. Martinez had nice hands and a lot of variety to her game. But she's not on the same level as Austin in terms of constructing points, moving her opponent around, and literally willing herself to victory.

Once again you are morphing the prime Austin with the 82-83 Austin as if they were the same player, as an 80s tennis nut you of all people who should know how completely false that is. That would be like one moprhing the post stabbing Seles with prime Seles, or 97-99 Graf with prime Graf.

A prime Martinez as a Graf true Graf contemporary on clay vs a prime Austin as a true Evert contemporary on clay is an interesting hypothetical but it really is only just that it turns out, a hypothetical. Austin entered only 4 tournaments on clay from 1979-1981 like I said, and only 1 which Evert was in. In 82-83 she even entered only 4 tournaments on clay but as already noted was a complete shadow of herself by then. The fact alone we are even debating how a prime Austin compares to a prime Martinez on clay shows how you couldnt even compare the 82-83 version of Austin which is nowhere close to the 79-80 version to Martinez on clay.

Notice I did not even include Hingis in my competion allocation for Graf. Yet even here Graf was in many more tournaments with a prime Hingis (97 onwards) than Evert was in vs a prime Austin (79 to 81), and actually clearly diminished herself by injuries which would soon have her retire beat a prime Hingis to win the 99 French Open, while Austin was not even entered in a French Open in her prime years. Heck even a prime Mandlikova was closer to a Graf opponent during the Graf reign on clay than Austin was to Evert. Mandlikova atleast played the French Open in 1987 only months after her final slam title. However I never even thought for a moment of including her.

As for Jo Durie she was an all out serve/volley player and grass court specialist who ended only 1 year in the top 10 her whole career, in an era Bettina Bunge managed to do so 3 times.

DMan
04-25-2009, 11:17 PM
I think I have more than demonstrated the Graf field on clay was significantly tougher than the Evert 1981-1986 field, however as I said that is by far the tougher field of the two halves which Evert faced. Now lets go to the 1974-1980 where most her greatest dominance on clay came: 4 of her 7 French Opens, the vaunted 125 match win streak, the utter dominance on clay which she did not have anywhere near the same extent at any point in the 80s. The numbers I post are in order from toughest opponent of each era to next toughest downwards.

1. Seles vs Goolagong on clay: do I need to say anything. By the way regarding the stabbing I would take 3 years of prime Seles on clay over 3 years of prime Goolagong (prime Goolagong vs prime Chris was only 1974-1976), and I would take the post stabbing Seles on clay over even prime Goolagong let alone the 1978-1980 Goolagong, and I would take even a 15 year old Seles over Goolagong on clay in one of her non-prime years. Next.

2. Sanchez Vicario vs 74-80 version of Navratilova on clay: From 1975 to 1981 Martina played in 5 grand slam events on clay. She started off in great style, losing to only Chris in the finals of the French and semis of the U.S Open in 1975 (although the French Open field that year was a ghost field as I said earlier). However her only other 3 slam events played on clay from 1976 to 1981 she lost to Janet Newberry, Wendy Turnbull, and Syliva Hanika. Martina and Chris only played 0 matches on clay from 1976 to 1980, in fact 0 from 1976 to 1983. They went from their last match in 1975 to their next in 1984 without even playing on clay. They played 4 times on clay in 1975, 1 time in 1974 and 1 in 1973 when Martina was just starting out on tour. This seems a no brainer. The 1975 Martina is the only Martina from 74-80 who could come close to the difficult opponent Sanchez provided Graf on clay.

3. Sabatini vs 33-35 year old Court- well considering Evert at the end of her clay court dominance lost 6-1 sets to a 14 and barely 16 year old Sabatini on clay I would like Gabys chances vs a way past her prime mid 30s Court. If the 33-34 year old Evert had played Gaby on clay and not just hard courts in 88-89 she probably would have been losing to her most times there too (she was on hard courts by then), and an aging Evert I would take over an aging Court on clay especialy given Court was the one playing one final time after 2 pregnancies. Also I feel almost generous even counting Court in anyway given that she and Evert never played a match on clay after 1973, and the 1973 French Open final and a match in 1970 were their only matches ever on clay. However they were still in the U.S Open draws together from 75-77 which is the only reason I list her.

4. Martinez vs 33-38 year old King: the only clay court slams King and Evert played were the 77 U.S Open, 80 French Open, and 82 French Open when King was 33-38 years old. 90-93 Martinez went 3-1 vs a 33-37 year old Navratilova on clay so I suspect she wouldnt have any trouble with a 33-38 year old King, a far far worse clay courter than Navratilova. The 90-92 Martinez who went 2-1 vs the aging Martina wasnt nearly as good as the 93-96 Martinez either. As a matter of fact I would take Martinez over even a prime King on clay, the same King that even a pre-prime Evert was dishing out breadsticks and bagels to sometimes. Mock Martinez all you want but she was a clay courter, King was not.

5. Pierce vs Turnbull: a punching bag for Mary to shoot at. Ok since we are discussing threats to Evert and Graf, Pierce on her good days was 5x more the threat to a top gun, particularly on clay. Turnbulls best surface should definitely be grass by alot with her playing style, her 2 slam finals being on clay was a reflection of the clay field more than anything.

6. Fernandez vs Morozova: a flash in the pan who had one or two good years vs a steady performer in the top 10 over many years.

7. Capriati vs Wade: I argued strongly in favor of Wade over Capriati in the Wade vs Capriati poll that was up, but on clay Capriati dusts Wade.

8. Maleeva vs Ruzici: Maleeva has won an Italian Open title over Evert in the final, taken many sets off of prime Evert, Seles, and Graf over the years, and been to the semis and quarters of many full field legit slams, and clay is the best surface of both. Other than winning a French in one of those nobody shows up years in the 70s what has Ruzici done to go up against this.

9. Jausovec vs Novotna- again who has made by far more impact vs the top players even on clay when they played, and had more good showings in full field French Opens (yes I do realize Mima made one final in 83 in a full field French after the draw collapsed with upsets).

As I suspected this turned out to be even more of rout than the 81-86 one. Evert may be the greatest clay courter ever but those who question her competition on clay are certainly within reason.

Fascinating analysis. But you just cannot compare players of different eras, or predict who would win. Like Seles v Goolagong or Sabatini v Court.

DMan
04-25-2009, 11:30 PM
It's not like Tracy bombed on clay. She did quite well. It simply wasn't her surface of preference. And more importantly, it was a time of year that she often spent away from the tour, something that would've changed had she been able to play longer.

But she did beat Chris Evert on slow red European clay and no amount of excuse making is going to change that fact. Either beating Chris Evert on clay is a big deal, or it's not. I say it's a very big deal because there may not be another player in the Open era that had such a dominant record on a single surface as Evert did on clay.

Tracy helped win the Fed Cup on European clay. She was a 2 time QF at the French and while her loss to Durie doesn't sound great now, Durie was one of the top players during that time.

That's her relatively few exposures on that surface. And there's nothing in that record that tells me she couldn't have been successful on it, although being a California hard courter did present its challenges to her as she learned to play the surface. However, if she spent that little amount of time on it and produced those results, then I feel fairly confident in speculating that she could've been a contender at the French.

Austin vs. Martinez? Think of this in terms of Martinez being in Austin's era with a smaller head wood racquet and she would've looked an awful lot like Virginia Ruzici. Big forehand, loopy topspin backhand, with the ability to slice underneath the ball, drop shots and lobs. Or give Austin the advantages that Martinez enjoyed 10 to 15 years after Austin left the tour in 1983 and see how that might have went. To me, the huge difference would've been the mental part of the game. On any surface, Austin could've taken Martinez in a big match.

Chris said it best herself when she was asked if she was surprised that Austin could still beat a player of the calibur of K. Maleeva in 1994 more than 10 years since being on the tour full time. She, maybe more than any other opponent, knew the toughness and the mental strength of Austin. Chris wasn't surprised at all, in fact, she predicted it. Martinez had nice hands and a lot of variety to her game. But she's not on the same level as Austin in terms of constructing points, moving her opponent around, and literally willing herself to victory.

Tracy didn't bomb on clay. In addition to winning the Italian open in 1979, she also won the Family Circle Cup in 1979 (beating Goolagong and Reid) and in 1980. And her iwn over Evert in 1979 was avery big deal. I still maintain that had Tracy played more often on red clay, she wouldn't have beaten Evert, nor would she have ever won a French. I still maintain that the reason she didn't enter the French until 1982 was because she wasn't comfortable on the surface. In 1981 she played the German Open, but not the French.

Tracy was mentally tough, and might have been a contender. But I also maintain that a Conchita Martinez would have beaten Tracy on red clay more often than losing to her. I don't think Ruzici was the Austin-era equivalent of Martinez. Conchita was a consistent top 10, and for a number of years top 4 player. She also won numerous major events on clay.

Bottom line: Evert is still the best clay courter of the Open era, followed closely by Graf. Steffi was also raised on clay. And she had her first major successes on clay. 1986 Family circle over Evert was her 1st tournament win. Her 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tournament wins were also on clay. Her first major was on clay. And so was her last tournament win and major. From 1986-1989 Steffi lost only 4 times on clay (86 French, 88 Amelia Island and 89 Amelia Island and 89 French). Steffi was unbeaten on clay in 1987, winning 6 tournaments. What's interesting is that @ 1991 clay suddenly became the surface Steffi was considered to be the most vulnerable on. Even though she regularly won tournaments on clay, and never failed to reach the semis at the French, until 1997, when she was hobbled by a knee needing surgery.

Chris had the higher winning percentage on clay, so that's why you have to give Chris the nod over Steffi But what is sometimes lost is how well Steffi did on clay, and like I said considering how many felt it was her 'worst' surface. (Sort of compared to Evert on grass. Chris' worst surface. Chris still did very well, winning 5 majors on grass, but that's one less than what Steffi won on clay.)

julesb
04-25-2009, 11:54 PM
Conchita was an underachiever because she was always lazy, fat, and out of shape. She didnt compete very hard and she sulked and gave up when the going got tough. While I wouldnt say she was a great all aroun talent for all surfaces I would say she was a great potential talent for clay. Her game should have suited clay perfectly. However she did not put in either the work off court, or effort or fight during her competitive matches, to come close to maximizing that talent for clay.

BTURNER
04-26-2009, 06:28 AM
Dman, EVertfan and I were both trying to compare career W/L percentage of both Graf and Evert. we were unable to come up with the stats. Do you have career w/l stats that reflect clay results on them both? Can you provide for, say, a dozen of my grandmother's homemade orange danish roles? You can't get any under you reach Heaven's gate,( that is where she must be baking them) but I can arrange something after you die. Trust me, they are worth dying for.

Assuming some adjustment for fact Graf had tons of great clay courters throughout her entire career, we still could learn depending on the size of disparity.

PS. Whether you get the orange almond frosting depends on what those stats say.

conway
08-24-2014, 05:50 PM
I would say Graf's clay competition overall was on another planet from Evert's even with the Seles stabbing. Evert's clay competition in the 70s was literally nobody. Evert's clay competition in the 80s was Navratilova and Mandilikova, and that is it. I would say the 87-99 period had bar none the deepest clay court era ever with Graf, Seles, Sanchez Vicario, Sabatini, Martinez, Pierce, Capriati, Hingis, Zvereva, Fernandez, Majoli, and others even behind those who were also very strong on clay.

That said I could not rank Graf above Evert on clay since it isn't really comparing a 7 French Open winner to a 6 time. Evert really is a 10 time French Open winner as the 76-78 French Opens were not real slams, nobody who mattered even played them, and the 75 to 77 U.S Opens on clay were the real French Opens for those years and Evert won all 3. So I label her a 10 time French Open winner. Graf is a 6 time French Open winner, who would only be a 4 or 5 time without the Seles stabbing. So despite that Graf's clay competition is too much higher than Evert's to even put into words, the gap in their achievements on clay is much more than 1 French Open title, and thus Evert still ranks above Graf on clay IMO, although just barely.

I am not even sure if Graf is 2nd though. Lenglen has a good case for 2nd place too. It is between those two. Some would say Seles and Henin, but neither have much of a case IMO. Seles or Connolly could have been 2nd or even 1st above Evert, but we will never know. I am a big Henin fan but arguing her any higher than 3rd is impossible. Her clay competition is also poor, and nowhere near Graf's, and she still won less French Opens, less titles on clay, and generally achieved less on clay even with much less competition.

bluetrain4
08-24-2014, 06:03 PM
This is tough for me to admit or suggest , but is it possible that Evert is getting an uncritical pass GOAT on clay? One of the things I have been persuaded by posters here , is that Evert's clay court competition was not as tough throughout some major stages of her career as Graf's. ( I tried to persuade them that the grass court minefield of all time greats more than made up the difference when so many slams were grass)

Graf and Evert have the same number of French finals with Evert converting on one more. Graf's era showcased the best of the best year after year with Sanchez, Martinez, Sabatini, Seles, second tier Maleeva sisters, Huber, and even some S& V''s who played well on dirt like Hana, Martina and Jana and Sukova and THEY ALL showed up for the French and most routinely played other clay events because they felt comfortable and competitive on the surface. Of course Evert's aces were those strings for years on end and those well attended US opens on clay with the loss of only one set. Still, not many great dirtballers rd after rd. For the record Evert has 5 italians, Graf 1. Graf has 9 Germans ( she lost 2 finals - both straight sets to Evert and Seles), Evert has 2. Evert has those Hilton head and US clay titles.

Hypothetically, would a prime Evert (1985-1986, when she had her great consistency and confidence, along with her maximum power, speed and variety she acquired to beat Navratilova) win most of slams with in the early/mid nineties with the kinds of draws the RG event had? Could she beat prime Sanchez semi, then Seles back to back? How about Martinez in QF, Sabatini in the semis and Graf in the final? Would she do better than Graf did?

And Pierce, MJ Fernandez, early and late Capriati, and early Hingis and maybe a few others. At the very least Pierce and MJ Fernandez should be on that generational minefield list. Tough competition indeed. Remember what Pierce did to her in the 1994 SFs? And yeah, MJ Fernandez never beat Graf, but she was a tough player and took Graf to three sets in 1993 French final and three sets in the the 1993 German Open final.

conway
08-24-2014, 06:09 PM
And Pierce is only something like the 6th best clay courter of the Graf era. She would easily be the 3rd (atleast) of the Evert era. No contest which had tougher competition on clay, but still 10 time French open winner must rank above 4 or 5 time French Open winner Graf, as the gap in achievements is just too much.

BTURNER
08-24-2014, 06:11 PM
I would say Graf's clay competition overall was on another planet from Evert's even with the Seles stabbing. Evert's clay competition in the 70s was literally nobody. Evert's clay competition in the 80s was Navratilova and Mandilikova, and that is it. I would say the 87-99 period had bar none the deepest clay court era ever with Graf, Seles, Sanchez Vicario, Sabatini, Martinez, Pierce, Capriati, Hingis, Zvereva, Fernandez, Majoli, and others even behind those who were also very strong on clay.

That said I could not rank Graf above Evert on clay since it isn't really comparing a 7 French Open winner to a 6 time. Evert really is a 10 time French Open winner as the 76-78 French Opens were not real slams, nobody who mattered even played them, and the 75 to 77 U.S Opens on clay were the real French Opens for those years and Evert won all 3. So I label her a 10 time French Open winner. Graf is a 6 time French Open winner, who would only be a 4 or 5 time without the Seles stabbing. So despite that Graf's clay competition is too much higher than Evert's to even put into words, the gap in their achievements on clay is much more than 1 French Open title, and thus Evert still ranks above Graf on clay IMO, although just barely.

I am not even sure if Graf is 2nd though. Lenglen has a good case for 2nd place too. It is between those two. Some would say Seles and Henin, but neither have much of a case IMO. Seles or Connolly could have been 2nd or even 1st above Evert, but we will never know. I am a big Henin fan but arguing her any higher than 3rd is impossible. Her clay competition is also poor, and nowhere near Graf's, and she still won less French Opens, less titles on clay, and generally achieved less on clay even with much less competition.

I agree with the above. Evert was the only woman allowed to play majors on both slow red clay and the faster green dirt, and she made the absolute most of it. The general question in the game from 1973-1983 was how many players had a shot at a set, because the answer to who was likely to win matches was so very narrow .Nobody predicted a loss, even if there was a previous recent win on dirt. It was almost always a shock when it happened. While the competition was far weaker, no one can possibly ask more of a champion than an average span of years between a match loss, and only a couple of handfuls of lost sets. If that isn't rewarded with GOAT on a surface, nothing can be.

conway
08-24-2014, 06:16 PM
Basically, I agree with the above. Evert was the only woman allowed to play majors on both slow red clay and the faster green dirt, and she made the absolute most of it. The general question in the game from 1973-1983 was how many players had a shot at a set, because the answer to who was likely to win matches was so very narrow .Nobody predicted a loss, even if there was a previous recent win on dirt. It was almost always a shock when it happened.

Very true and that type of extreme dominance, which is dominance with a capital, bold, and punctuation all at once is impossible to overlook, no matter how relatively poor the clay field was. And such longevity of maintaining such a high clay level too, warding off the constant threats of injuries, and other potential pitfalls. Even against such a weak clay field that it is impossible to look past. You cant expect or ask anymore of a player than that, and lets face it Lenglen's competition on clay in the 20s was probably even worse and Evert was undefeated as long while playing many more matches and tournaments.

AngieB
08-24-2014, 07:24 PM
Lord, Jesus and Mary in Heaven,

What Chris Evert accomplished on clay between 1973 and 1981 will likely never be repeated in tennis history by any player on any surface. There appears to be a recent wave of revisionism in this forum as it relates to all-time records which I feel is an affront to the history of the sport.

The revisionists in this forum have (unsuccessfully, in my opinion) attempted to convince us that some non-Wimbledon champions hold higher historical-significance in the sport than other Wimbledon Champions. They hypocritically suggest that Roy Emerson's 12 grand slam singles titles are tainted because "the best" played the pro-slam's and not amateur slams, yet defend Margaret Court's Australian Open wins as golden, even though the best women didn't regularly play in Australia.

In short, you skew actual numerically recorded accomplishments with the taint of subjective fodder. One of the most sacred records in tennis history, Chris Evert's clay records, is now under attack and I'm not having it. Comparing Steffi to Chris on clay? Please, stop the ridiculousness, now.

Chris wins over 90% of all the matches she ever played and rarely lost on clay for an eight year period, during a time when Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Evonne Goolagong, Tracy Austin, Hana Mandlikova and Andrea Jaeger played and you try to peddle the notion she didn't have strong competition?

Steffi was great on every surface, but she was never better historically on clay than Chris, and no amount of revisionism in this forum will ever change that historical fact.

#NotDrinkingTheKoolAid #RevisionismRepealed #NumbersMatter #WimbledonHistoryMaker

AngieB

BTURNER
08-24-2014, 08:06 PM
Lord, Jesus and Mary in Heaven,

What Chris Evert accomplished on clay between 1973 and 1981 will likely never be repeated in tennis history by any player on any surface. There appears to be a recent wave of revisionism in this forum as it relates to all-time records which I feel is an affront to the history of the sport.

The revisionists in this forum have (unsuccessfully, in my opinion) attempted to convince us that some non-Wimbledon champions hold higher historical-significance in the sport than other Wimbledon Champions. They hypocritically suggest that Roy Emerson's 12 grand slam singles titles are tainted because "the best" played the pro-slam's and not amateur slams, yet defend Margaret Court's Australian Open wins as golden, even though the best women didn't regularly play in Australia.

In short, you skew actual numerically recorded accomplishments with the taint of subjective fodder. One of the most sacred records in tennis history, Chris Evert's clay records, is now under attack and I'm not having it. Comparing Steffi to Chris on clay? Please, stop the ridiculousness, now.

Chris wins over 90% of all the matches she ever played and rarely lost on clay for an eight year period, during a time when Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Evonne Goolagong, Tracy Austin, Hana Mandlikova and Andrea Jaeger played and you try to peddle the notion she didn't have strong competition?

Steffi was great on every surface, but she was never better historically on clay than Chris, and no amount of revisionism in this forum will ever change that historical fact.

#NotDrinkingTheKoolAid #RevisionismRepealed #NumbersMatter #WimbledonHistoryMaker

AngieB

There is no revision going on here and if you read carefully most everyone is agreeing with you on Evert a clay court queen. There is a recognition that as more majors turned from grass to other surfaces, there was a natural subsequent change in the depth of grass court tennis and clay court tennis fields. Its not unlikely that in an era in which 3 of 4 majors were played on grass, greater focus would be placed on the strokes and tactics well rewarded for that surface. Thus when Evert was dominating in the mid-seventies, we still had players who's game and strokes were tailored for fast s/v tennis. Thus a top ten included Court, King, Wade, Goolagong, Casals, Melville, along with Durr and Richey. Considering a lag time between the change in the Open and other US tournaments to hard or clay courts, and the development of talent that specialized therein, this makes sense. A decade later the top ten might showcase different temperaments, strokes and tactics like Austin, Jaeger, and even later a buschle of clay court princesses as slower courts marched along.

Evert was a claycourter who came along in a time where great clay court tactics and strokes/ games were not as dominant in the draws as grasscourters. As more tournaments paved over their lawns or threw dirt on them, a different dynamic spread through the tour.

Conway and several others are just noting the impact on the respective eras.

Not many are claiming decisively that Graf has a better record than Evert on clay, or that the astounding Evert numbers aren't conclusive. We just suggest the different eras had different strengths and Graf's era was stronger on slow surfaces because grass was less dominant in the states. It may elevate Graf's reputation on clay beyond the superficial numbers( no crime in that), but it also elevates Evert's achievements on grass, because she was competing and reaching finals from 1971-1982 in an era with some of the deepest grasscourt draws in history.

We are just asking some good hard questions that deserve some examination even if they have the impact of suggesting Graf is a lot closer than the numbers themselves illustrate.

Chico
08-24-2014, 08:34 PM
LOL at putting even a thought that overrated Graf was better than Evert on clay.

Graf would not win anything on clay in the 90s if Seles was not stabbed. A simple fact that many Graf revisionist try to ignore and bury under the carpet here.

Generally:
Evert >>> Graf

On clay:
Evert >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Graf

It is preposterous to even debate this.

bluetrain4
08-24-2014, 09:05 PM
LOL at putting even a thought that overrated Graf was better than Evert on clay.

Graf would not win anything on clay in the 90s if Seles was not stabbed. A simple fact that many Graf revisionist try to ignore and bury under the carpet here.

Generally:
Evert >>> Graf

On clay:
Evert >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Graf

It is preposterous to even debate this.

I say this as a bigger Seles fan than Graf fan:

Come one, Graf was very good on clay, and she could beat Seles on clay. They were 3-3 vs each other on clay and except for one 6-3, 6-4 win by Seles, all of the matches were very tight. 5 of the 6 matches (and 2 of the 3 Graf wins) happened before Seles got stabbed.

Sure, I think if Seles would not have been stabbed (she was stabbed at her absolute peak) and if Seles and Graf played in any of the French Opens from 1993-1995 (or the other big clay tournaments), I would probably favor Seles, but I'd give Graf a fair chance at winning, and I'd have to assume Graf would win some of those big-tournament clay matches. The clay match results between them don't speak to Seles dominating Graf on clay.

Too bad, I would have liked to have seen them play more. They played 15 times (Graf leads 10-5) and the only bad, non-competitive matches were Steffi's two Wimbledon blowouts and maybe Seles' 7-5, 6-1 win at the 1999 AO, but even that had at least one competitive set.

BTW, none of this is to say that I think Graf should be above Evert in the clay rankings.

AngieB
08-24-2014, 10:02 PM
There is no revision going on here and if you read carefully most everyone is agreeing with you on Evert a clay court queen. There is a recognition that as more majors turned from grass to other surfaces, there was a natural subsequent change in the depth of grass court tennis and clay court tennis fields. Its not unlikely that in an era in which 3 of 4 majors were played on grass, greater focus would be placed on the strokes and tactics well rewarded for that surface. Thus when Evert was dominating in the mid-seventies, we still had players who's game and strokes were tailored for fast s/v tennis. Thus a top ten included Court, King, Wade, Goolagong, Casals, Melville, along with Durr and Richey. Considering a lag time between the change in the Open and other US tournaments to hard or clay courts, and the development of talent that specialized therein, this makes sense. A decade later the top ten might showcase different temperaments, strokes and tactics like Austin, Jaeger, and even later a buschle of clay court princesses as slower courts marched along.

Evert was a claycourter who came along in a time where great clay court tactics and strokes/ games were not as dominant in the draws as grasscourters. As more tournaments paved over their lawns or threw dirt on them, a different dynamic spread through the tour.

Conway and several others are just noting the impact on the respective eras.

Not many are claiming decisively that Graf has a better record than Evert on clay, or that the astounding Evert numbers aren't conclusive. We just suggest the different eras had different strengths and Graf's era was stronger on slow surfaces because grass was less dominant in the states. It may elevate Graf's reputation on clay beyond the superficial numbers( no crime in that), but it also elevates Evert's achievements on grass, because she was competing and reaching finals from 1971-1982 in an era with some of the deepest grasscourt draws in history.

We are just asking some good hard questions that deserve some examination even if they have the impact of suggesting Graf is a lot closer than the numbers themselves illustrate.

Does anyone remember that the US Open Championships from 1975-1977 were played on clay, and as I recall, Chris Evert won all three. I saw Chris soundly defeat Evonne in 1976 and a close 1975 finals.

To be more accurate, in the mid 70's, 2 of the 4 majors were played on clay, until Flushing Meadow in 1978 when it went permanently to hard courts. Chris went on to win three US Open's on hard court surface, defeating Hana Mandlikova in two of those finals.

Chris won 10 grand slam singles events on clay and didn't play at the French Open from 1976-1978 during a time she was undefeated on clay, so just stop. No other woman comes close, ever. I wouldn't typically take such a staunch stance, but Chris on clay historically cannot be challenged.

AngieB

Dedans Penthouse
08-25-2014, 10:45 AM
Does anyone remember that the US Open Championships from 1975-1977 were played on clay, and as I recall, Chris Evert won all three. I saw Chris soundly defeat Evonne in 1976 and a close 1975 finals.

To be more accurate, in the mid 70's, 2 of the 4 majors were played on clay, until Flushing Meadow in 1978 when it went permanently to hard courts. Chris went on to win three US Open's on hard court surface, defeating Hana Mandlikova in two of those finals.

Chris won 10 grand slam singles events on clay and didn't play at the French Open from 1976-1978 during a time she was undefeated on clay, so just stop. No other woman comes close, ever. I wouldn't typically take such a staunch stance, but Chris on clay historically cannot be challenged.

AngieB

Good post, props.

BTURNER
08-25-2014, 01:10 PM
Does anyone remember that the US Open Championships from 1975-1977 were played on clay, and as I recall, Chris Evert won all three. I saw Chris soundly defeat Evonne in 1976 and a close 1975 finals.

To be more accurate, in the mid 70's, 2 of the 4 majors were played on clay, until Flushing Meadow in 1978 when it went permanently to hard courts. Chris went on to win three US Open's on hard court surface, defeating Hana Mandlikova in two of those finals.

Chris won 10 grand slam singles events on clay and didn't play at the French Open from 1976-1978 during a time she was undefeated on clay, so just stop. No other woman comes close, ever. I wouldn't typically take such a staunch stance, but Chris on clay historically cannot be challenged.

AngieB

yes Angie we know that she proved herself amply by winning as readily on the green turf as the red. There is no question that she fully dominated her peers on clay in a way Graf did not. I don't know how much reassuring we have to do here. virtually everyone agrees she has the better record. The only question becomes how good were those peers. Were they of the standard as clay specialists like Seles, Martinez, Sabatini, and Sanchez. Each of those women probably felt more comfortable sliding on dirt than any other surface. Each was raised on clay and each took a hefty bite out of the clay circuit either at RG, or the Italian or Madrid. While Goolagong, Court, Mandlikova, Navratilova, Jaeger and Maleeva all played great clay tennis on occasion and each had victories, the only one for whom clay was probably their best surface was Maleeva. It wasn't home sweet home like so many of the top tenners in Graf's era.
Austin

jrepac
08-25-2014, 03:56 PM
Some interesting back and forth here, but if we are arguing about Evert's preeminence and near total dominance on clay over a decade (or two) than really, nothing can be sacred. It's not revisionist, it's just not true.

Arguably, the competition in the 90's was stronger on clay, but Evert did face down and beat some of those players on the dirt.

Did Graf do very well on clay? Surely. Graf better than Seles? No. Then, is Seles better than Evert? Debatable, but again, I say no. Retiring Chris cleaned Monica's clock in '89 on mid-paced decoturf...not the same surface, but very much an equalizer. That was probably the last match we saw where Chris demonstrated her full prowess and it was something to watch.

Chris's overall record on clay will never be touched, much like Connors winning the USO on 3 surfaces. You can fantasize about it, but it's not going to happen anytime soon.

Oh well, those days are long behind us !

conway
08-25-2014, 04:14 PM
Considering Graf is 3-3 vs Seles on clay, 2-2 at Roland Garros, but has 6 Roland Garros titles to 3 for Seles, and many more tournament titles on clay, obviously Graf does rate above Seles on clay. We could debate without the stabbing what would have happened, but the fact is Seles played Roland Garros 11 times and won it only 3, so a ratio of 27%. Graf played it 14 times (starting at 14 vs Seles who began at 15) and won it 6 times, so a ratio of 42%. So even ratio of titles per appearances Graf is far ahead, and Seles has the edge in no categories on clay, not even head to head. For those who insiste on making excuses or breaking down the meetings further, they only even played 1 match post stabbing (and when Graf was 30, post major surgeries). Even in 91-92 when Seles was the dominant #1 she lost pretty easily in the 3rd set of 1 of 2 clay meetings with Graf, and won the other 10-8 in the 3rd over an erratic and unforced error spraying Graf. Graf was playing some of her worst tennis ever in mid 90 when Seles had her 2 other wins, even losing to Zina freaking Garrison at Wimbledon weeks later (and yes I know Seles did too, but that wasn't a bad loss on grass for Seles, but for Graf it was horrendous). Graf was much older and further past her prime than Seles in their last meeting in 99 at Roland Garros, and much lower ranked at the time, and Graf still came out the winner. In the end though they are 3-3 on clay, and 2-2 at Roland Garros, and that is the only area on clay Seles even equals Graf, and in nothing else.

BTW Seles and Evert's only clay meeting was won by Seles, when both women were far from their prime. Not that I would read anything into that either way, nor their U.S Open meeting where Evert drubbed Seles.

AngieB
08-27-2014, 02:43 PM
Considering Graf is 3-3 vs Seles on clay, 2-2 at Roland Garros, but has 6 Roland Garros titles to 3 for Seles, and many more tournament titles on clay, obviously Graf does rate above Seles on clay. We could debate without the stabbing what would have happened, but the fact is Seles played Roland Garros 11 times and won it only 3, so a ratio of 27%. Graf played it 14 times (starting at 14 vs Seles who began at 15) and won it 6 times, so a ratio of 42%. So even ratio of titles per appearances Graf is far ahead, and Seles has the edge in no categories on clay, not even head to head. For those who insiste on making excuses or breaking down the meetings further, they only even played 1 match post stabbing (and when Graf was 30, post major surgeries). Even in 91-92 when Seles was the dominant #1 she lost pretty easily in the 3rd set of 1 of 2 clay meetings with Graf, and won the other 10-8 in the 3rd over an erratic and unforced error spraying Graf. Graf was playing some of her worst tennis ever in mid 90 when Seles had her 2 other wins, even losing to Zina freaking Garrison at Wimbledon weeks later (and yes I know Seles did too, but that wasn't a bad loss on grass for Seles, but for Graf it was horrendous). Graf was much older and further past her prime than Seles in their last meeting in 99 at Roland Garros, and much lower ranked at the time, and Graf still came out the winner. In the end though they are 3-3 on clay, and 2-2 at Roland Garros, and that is the only area on clay Seles even equals Graf, and in nothing else.

BTW Seles and Evert's only clay meeting was won by Seles, when both women were far from their prime. Not that I would read anything into that either way, nor their U.S Open meeting where Evert drubbed Seles.
While all that you wrote might be described as titillating to an astute observer gathering information for the Graf-Seles era, all of it is immaterial as it relates to Evert's grand achievement.

Top Ten Clay Court Players in Women's Tennis History:

#1 Chris Evert
.
.
.
.no one comes close
..
.
.
.still, no one comes close
.
.
.
.yet again, no one comes close
.
..
.
.
.
2. Graf, Suzanne Lenglen, Helen Wills Moody, Henin, etc. etc.

BTURNER
08-27-2014, 04:37 PM
While all that you wrote might be described as titillating to an astute observer gathering information for the Graf-Seles era, all of it is immaterial as it relates to Evert's grand achievement.

Top Ten Clay Court Players in Women's Tennis History:

#1 Chris Evert
.
.
.
.no one comes close
..
.
.
.still, no one comes close
.
.
.
.yet again, no one comes close
.
..
.
.
.
2. Graf, Suzanne Lenglen, Helen Wills Moody, Henin, etc. etc.

yeah maybe, but its real hard to find many 'oopsies ' in Lenglen's record! she went awhile between losses on dirt too.

conway
08-27-2014, 04:50 PM
yeah maybe, but its real hard to find many 'oopsies ' in Lenglen's record! she went awhile between losses on dirt too.

True, but no fault of her own, the competition back then was indescribably vacant. While Evert overall had weak competition on clay, she atleast had some (sometimes anyway). Lenglen literally had nobody on any surface, but even more on clay as the same rivals she generally dropped a couple games per match against- Mallorey, Godfrey, Ryan, were atleast better on grass than clay.

That is why I used her as an indicator for what Evert did, going undefeated on clay for 7 years and 125 matches as so remarkable, even in a very weak clay field that period. Lenglen basically did the same thing (and is the only one who can be compared to that degree of dominance for a similar length of time, maybe Wills as well), except playing about 10 matches on clay per year rather than 20, and against even worse competition before womens tennis even became started for real (IMO the very end of the Lenglen era and start of the Wills era was where it started as a competitive sport in a real sense).

BTURNER
08-27-2014, 07:14 PM
True, but no fault of her own, the competition back then was indescribably vacant. While Evert overall had weak competition on clay, she atleast had some (sometimes anyway). Lenglen literally had nobody on any surface, but even more on clay as the same rivals she generally dropped a couple games per match against- Mallorey, Godfrey, Ryan, were atleast better on grass than clay.

That is why I used her as an indicator for what Evert did, going undefeated on clay for 7 years and 125 matches as so remarkable, even in a very weak clay field that period. Lenglen basically did the same thing (and is the only one who can be compared to that degree of dominance for a similar length of time, maybe Wills as well), except playing about 10 matches on clay per year rather than 20, and against even worse competition before womens tennis even became started for real (IMO the very end of the Lenglen era and start of the Wills era was where it started as a competitive sport in a real sense).

Not only can't you find fault, you have to give her some of the credit. Its the old trap you are falling into. She reaches into cribs of potential challengers and strangles the competitive fire out each and every one of them except the one baby (Wills), who's nursery, she never was allowed close to. The reason there was zero competition was because she paid enough attention to see to it that there were no close scores, no lost sets, and whispers of hope spread in the locker rooms( figure of speech) If the closest distance is always measured in millions of kilometers, no one seriously tries to fly to Mars.

conway
08-27-2014, 07:23 PM
There was no competition in womens tennis in the 20s period. Had the great Lenglen not existed it would be even worse than what it already was. Wills Moody is roughly equaly great to Lenglen, and you see a huge improvement in the late 20s and 30s with some respectable scores vs her, and even the odd 3 setter, despite that she was just as dominant who also had a 7 year winning streak at one point. That is becuase womens tennis was just starting to be a real sport when Lenglen retired. Elizabeth Ryan was a humungous women who could barely move (and I have seen some tapes of her play), who makes Elena Danilidou and Mariaan deSwaart look extremely thin and lightning quick by comparision, and she was the overall Wimbledon record holder (yes all doubles titles but still) until King and Navratilova barely passed her with 1 more. Someone like that couldn't even play pro tennis today.

Even when a dominant player snuffs the hope out of others the top 3 or 4 are still always going to put up more fight than winning 0-2 games every match. The only reason that happens is when womens tennis isnt a competitive sport yet. Good grief even Mima J. and Virginia R. who aren't even close to the best of the Evert era (even on clay) do better than that vs Chris, despite that she had done the same thing psychologicaly to the field on clay.

AngieB
08-27-2014, 08:36 PM
While Evert overall had weak competition on clay
I've read this inaccurate, disrespectful heresay more times than I care to see which is why I must address it accordingly.

Chris Evert on clay:

1973-1979 (125-0)
1973-1981 (189-2)

71 of the 258 sets (or 28%) were 6–0.
Only 8 of the 125 matches were three-setters.
Evert did not lose a set on clay in 1973 or between 1976–78.
She had runs of 76, 65, and 50 consecutive sets won during the streak

Do you realize that only two people on Earth were able to defeat this woman on a clay tennis court in nine years. Chris beat all-comers from all points of the planet.

Why are you trying to pedal the notion that for nine years during the Open Era, clay court tennis was weak around the world? For many years, the Italian Open (played on clay) was held in very high regard, equal to that of Miami or Indian Wells. Some might argue that the Italian Open was the 5th slam during the height of its popularity.

Chris destroyed two generations of opponents on clay:

Margaret Court
Martina Navratilova
Billie Jean King
Evonne Goolagong
Hana Mandlikova
Tracy Austin
Andrea Jaeger
Rosie Casals
Wendy Turnbull
etc. etc.

Chris' dominant results made her opponents appear weak on clay because of the way she destroyed them, not because their weren't good clay court players at the time. Chris' dominant play didn't allow any clay courters to rise to the ability to challenge.

By calling Chris' clay court era weak, you are essentially saying that for a period of nine years, the sport of tennis became so disinterested in clay court tennis, that it failed to field at least one challenger to Chris..a first in the history of the sport. Unbelievable.

Your revisionism falls in the same pattern of all the other revisionists in this forum who attack Margaret's grand slam singles record, Roy Emerson's 1960's triumphs, attempt to hoist pro slam winners over Wimbledon Champions and say that a Wimbledon Champion from 1920 is "less than" on from 1980.

There is a reason they call grand slam events "grand slam events". The sport of tennis, in EVERY generation. made grand slam events the crown jewels of the sport. Some chose not to chase the jewels, and take cash instead during pro tennis from the 1930's to 1960's. Some didn't want to go to Australia because of travel. Some didn't want to leave Europe.

There are thousands of mitigating factors why some people didn't win the biggest and best tennis tournaments in the world, or why some couldn't play well on clay, but great on grass, etc. Much too many for any historian to gather. These mitigating factors is what makes tennis a unique, challenging sport. The all-time greats had the best ability to adapt to the changes of surfaces, continents and opponents, which is what set them apart from their peers quantitatively.

To diminish Chris Evert's historic clay court record by saying it was a "weak era" is not only historically disrespectful to the sport, but lacks any quantitative measure by which to prove such. By far, it is probably one of the top five worst trolls I've ever read in tennis history, and I've been around a long time.

If we follow the revisionists pattern, then why should the sport of tennis even have grand slam events? The revisionists try to lessen their impact on tennis history almost everyday in this forum. Why even have tennis tournaments? Why not just call everyone a winner, ban competition, and play exhibitions which don't use a point system. Then everyone will be a GOAT and tennis will be golden.

Metaphorically-speaking, it seems like everytime I read a thread in this forum anymore there is some grand attempt at making Hana Mandlikova's career parallel to Evonne Goolagong's, or minimizing Don Budge's career to that of Bobby Riggs.

A quote from Jack Kramer:

"Bobby played to Budge's shoulder, lobbed him to death, won the first twelve matches, thirteen out of the first fourteen, and then hung on to beat Budge, twenty-four matches to twenty-two. At the age of thirty Don Budge was very nearly a has-been. That was the way pro tennis worked then."

But at the end of the day, I know who is the true GOAT:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLLMzr3PFgk&list=RDpLLMzr3PFgk


#PTL

AngieB

AngieB
08-27-2014, 08:39 PM
There was no competition in womens tennis in the 20s period.

I am sure that Suzanne Lenglen and the rest of the tennis world on Earth in the 1920's would disagree with you vehemently.

#PTL

AngieB

conway
08-27-2014, 08:40 PM
Good grief you are an ultra annoying poster. You pick out one line of mine, take it out of context, and ignore the fact I have been arguing in FAVOR of Evert ever since I bumped this thread. Welcome to my ignore list.

AngieB
08-27-2014, 08:44 PM
Good grief you are an ultra annoying poster. You pick out one line of mine, take it out of context, and ignore the fact I have been arguing in FAVOR of Evert ever since I bumped this thread. Welcome to my ignore list.]

God is my light and tennis is my companion. Bless the children.

#PTL

AngieB