70 Court vs 80 Graf

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by kiki, Aug 8, 2014.

  1. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Two of the GOAT candidates, firepower vs firepower, menthal strength vs menthal strength, athleticism vs athleticism.Court has a more well rounded all court game and Graf the greatest single shot in female´s history.Impossible to really have a winner here.

    But here is my pick:

    Court wins 2-1 on grass and Steffi wins 2-1 on clay and hard, while I´ll give Court a 2-1 lead indoors.But Graf wins the tie breaker 14-12 and puts the 80´s with a 2-0 lead.
     
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  2. conway

    conway Banned

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    I honestly think Graf would have the edge on every surface. Court's best chance as far as having a winning series (I have no doubt she would win some matches vs Graf on every surface) would be indoors/carpet.

    Clay- Graf won 6 French Opens in by far the deepest clay field in history, even with the Seles stabbing. Court won 5 in an era that more catered to grass court players, albeit it was atleast a far stronger clay field than say the one Evert dominated in the 70s. No women of her era filled with clay greats had the edge over Graf on clay, Seles was close to equal over their careers in the matchup, and that is it. Edge to Graf

    Grass- While Court is a great grass player with 19 grass slams in an era with the benefit of 3 grass majors annually (11 of those at the joke Australian Open), Graf won 7 Wimbledons at the sports premiere grass event and probably would have broken Martina's Wimbledon record without her 96-97 injuries. Court only 3. Even considering Court played in an era with many more good grass courters, I give the edge to Graf. Graf fared well vs Navratilova on grass, even considering it wasn't perhaps absolute peak Martina, and I think Martina would be a much tougher opponent for Graf to face than Court would so.

    Hard courts- Hard to compare as Court almost never played on them in that era. I have a feeling hard courts might have become her best surface had they been around more. Graf is generally regarded as the hard court GOAT though. Probably edge Graf.

    I also don't see Court's playing style being the type that troubles Graf the most. An overall powerful and hard hitting all court game, especialy for the time. However I still don't see her overpowering Graf in a baseline duel, as Davenport, Pierce, and Seles sometimes could do. She doesn't attack and come in off everything with such persistence to beat Graf regularly that way, as Martina did. I definitely don't see her frusterating Graf with outrageous retrieving like Sanchez Vicario, or with an incredible variety of spins and junk balling like Sabatini. BTW despite my saying all that none of those except Martina even has a close record vs Graf (well Davenport is 6-8, with the benefit of atleast half of her matches being vs a near retired/post surgey Graf). If I could compare Court to anyone she would probably be a more powerful, much more consistent, and much mentally tougher version of prime Mandilikova, and while that would obviously make an impressive player, I would still see Graf winning the majority of matches vs that type of hypothetical player. In the end I don't thinks he brings something to the table that would be such a thorn to Graf to prevent her from winning the majority of the meetings.
     
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  3. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Maggie cannot run down that forehand. Graf can run down those volleys. Court has nothing new to throw her way. its a terrible match-up for Court. She won't out steady Graf, she won't overpower Graf and she won't out-run Graf. On no surface does she win a majority.
     
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  4. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Graf has never played someone with the mixture of menthal power and athleticism as Court.maybe only peak Martina...who happen to win a lot of their clashes.So...
     
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  5. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    It is obvious, at least to me that Seles and Navratilova were Graf´s worst opponents.But while Seles had the mind, she lacked the body and while Navratilova had the body, often lacked the mind.

    Now, Margaret had both.

    As a result, Graf´s total majors are divided by two in case both coexisted ( still good enough to make both of them GOAT contenders)
     
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  6. conway

    conway Banned

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    Graf is 9-9 vs Martina, with atleast 10 of the matches being before Graf's prime, and somewhere from 4 to 8 (depending if you think Martina's prime ended in 87 or 89) after Martina's. Most of them were on faster surfaces which gave Martina her best chance in the matchup, and very flow on slow to medium courts where Martina would probably lose most encounters. Yet Graf is still tied, and up 4-2 in slam finals, so if anything Graf had the edge in that matchup IMO.

    I think Martina does better vs Graf than Court would. Martina attacked with such persistence, she literally came in off every 1st and nearly every 2nd serve, and chipped and charged on any 2nd serve return (even a good 2nd serve), and otherwise got in as quickly as she could. Court was an attacker but not that persistent of one, and would give Graf more time to find her rhythm and bearing in a point before coming in (if she even did). That is one of the ways to beat Graf.

    Another is being a rare player who could overpower her off the ground like an in the zone Seles, Pierce, or Davenport (granted all those players still have losing records, but did have some big wins over Graf). Another is to be an out of the world retriever who frusterates Graf by making her hit 4 or 5 winners a point like Sanchez Vicario. Another is to throw the kitchen sink at her as far as variety like Sabatini.

    Court is none of those. She doesn't attack with such persistence to make Graf feel like she has to hit a pass the first ball of nearly every point like Martina. Although she is powerful she certainly couldn't overpower Graf off the ground, or in general. She would not frusterate Graf with out of world defense like Sanchez. There isn't one thing in her game that would make her such a thorn in Graf's side to prevent her from feeling quite comfortable overall in this matchup. Court would still win some matches, since she is such a great player, but I agree with BTURNER that no way she has a winning record on any surface. Just not a good matchup for Court, or a bad one for Steffi.
     
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  7. conway

    conway Banned

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    This Martina didn't have the mind and Court did is BS IMO btw. Court was never as much a headcase as early career Martina, but Martina in her prime from 81-89 (and after her prime from 88-94 but now as a matured women) was mentally tougher than Court ever was. Martina the choker is a way overblown myth, and in her prime she was in fact very tough mentally. Court meanwhile was not famous for mental strength at all, and was even known for choking sometimes. Bud Collins, Jon Barret, and other tennis historians speak of it often. Remember how she handled the pressure of the Bobby Riggs match. She dominated and won titles through her game and physical dominance, not through this great mental strength. Her arch rival Billie Jean King was far tougher mentally than Court, but Court was just so superior an overall player it didn't matter most of the time (yet King still has double the Wimbledons and more combined wimbledons-U.S Opens with her inferior game).

    Then if you want to say she was mentally tough just due to her slam finals record, the same would have to apply to Martina. And by that logic Evert who has barely above a .500 record in slam finals would be mentally inferior to Court and Martina, which of course would be laughable to even suggest.
     
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  8. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Stylistically and physically the closest Graf played to a Margaret was not Seles, or Martina, but Helena Sukova. A tall physical woman who came in on a big first serve, stayed back on second and tried to impose herself from the back court with a big forehand and a complimentary slice on the backhand. Now I know they are levels apart mentally and Court had a more margin for error on her groundies. But that rivalry has the closest dynamic to a Court -Graf match-up I can think of, and the results were not very satisfying to Sukova.

    I don't even know what I would coach Court to do. Make no mistake, Graf's slice backhand return will bite down at Maggies feet. Graf will run down almost all of those approaches and a hell a high percentage of the first volleys. And I don't want my client to sit there and trade groundies with Steffi.
     
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  9. conway

    conway Banned

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    Yeah I agree that the closest analogy is Court is like a much better version of Sukova, but actually having movement and agility (which Sukova is practically devoid of altogether, unless you compare her to say Pam Shriver). Given how completely one sided the Graf-Sukova history is, still suggests wouldn't be enough in a matchup with Graf. That is nothing against Court, but just isn't the kind of opponent that would overcome Graf, even one as great as Court.
     
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  10. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Kudos, one of the only three women to achieve the GS is MENTHAL MIDGET¡¡¡¡

    Conway, what was your first match ?
     
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  11. Con_T

    Con_T New User

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    oh, THIS!

    Court won a GS in singles (and a GS in mixed doubles), 3/4 of a GS on 4 other occasions during her career, 24 GS singles titles (25 if one counts the US Amateur title in 68 where she beat Bueno), well over a hundred tournaments, a +90% overall w/l record, has a win-loss record against all of her contemporaries (and only Evert and Navratilova of other greats have a better w/l record against her, and I suggest only because she played them mostly in the twilight of her career) etc etc, all the while being mentally fragile (oh, and no competition at the AO, too). Give me a break.

    Has anyone here actually seen Court play, in person? I have. Court was a champion. Read what Nancy Richey had to say in that great piece BTURNER shared with us. I think Richey's opinion has much greater relevance than our hypothesizing. Put a wooden racquet in Graf's hand, or transplant Court to a later era with more modern equipment and training methods (especially as Court would probably have been allowed to develop naturally as a lefty) and I think we would see a very competitive and even rivalry between two pretty unique champions.
     
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  12. conway

    conway Banned

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    I didn't say she was a mental midget. I even explicably stated she was never the headcase Navratilova in her early career (before late 81, outside of maybe 78-79) was. I just said she was not known as some icon of mental strength either, and Navratilova in her prime was extremely mentally tough contrary to the popular myth created about her. Was Court tougher mentally than the 81-89 (heck the 81-94, despite her physical decline) Navratilova. Not a chance. So to say Court had the mental and Martina didn't is nonsense.

    Meanwhile it is you who was implying a women with 9 Wimbledons, who dominated tennis for 5 straight years (something Court never achieved, and no women in post World War 11 ever achieved) and who lost 6 matches in 3 years at her peak is a mental midget, so don't push this 24 slams (a largely asterisked stat anyway with the 11 Australian Opens) thing at me.
     
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  13. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I think Virginia put it very well. Margaret would hardly ever double fault - unless it was a really close in a really big match match, and then you just might see a few. The problem when playing Court was ever getting it close for long enough to find out.

    no one is going to call either Peak Margaret or Martina 'mentally weak' unless you are comparing them to the likes of Evert, King or peak Seles or Austin. The latter just could not afford the luxury because they did not have big serves or strokes that would dig them serious trouble that a mental lapse or shot selection error might induce. The Former could survive a 0-30 situation they created better, so nerves were not so systematically crushed out of their competitive system as youths. the mentally toughest players seemed to have always played 'above their pay grade' physically in the juniors so that they had the habit of NOT expecting to hit a winner just because they needed one. It puts more of an imperative on concentrating better at pivotal times in matches before the game point comes
     
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  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Well said

    I remember the first matches I watched Court.The way she looked, and specially the way she slowly walked before a major final was simply astonishing.Margaret exhuded, breathed and inhaled pride and self confidence.It was really awesome.You could feel " density" ( it was somewhat quite similar to Bjorn Borg making his appearence at the Centre Court but without all that R&R hysteria that surrounded Bjorn)

    The only player who was never intimidated by her was, of course, Maria Bueno.But she was even more arrogant, she was a true Princess with that class, grace and poise that made all the Dukesses and Countesses at the Royal Box look like working class people.
    --+
     
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  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Geez¡ did I imply Graf was a mental midget? Man, be serious, I´d never say anything like this.She was a real champion and so was Court.
     
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  16. conway

    conway Banned

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    Yeah I agree with all you said, and that is exactly what I mean when I say peak Martina is atleast as strong mentally as peak Court. So would wholeheartedly disagree with any slant like "Martina didn't have the mental, Court did." I know one thing for sure, absolutely nobody (lets say there life depended on how well they did) would rather play Martina of 82-87 than any version of Court, and young non prime Graf was 3-7 or 4-6 (I forget exactly which) vs that version of Navratilova.
     
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  17. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I haven't seen enough of Margaret on anything other than grass to really do this one justice.

    Much like Evert, she's criticized for not winning Wimbledon enough. That's incredible to me. Winning the biggest title in the world multiple times wasn't good enough?

    Much like Martina, she's said to be mentally weak. Okay, Evert and King were mentally stronger. But compared to players of that mental level so is everyone else.

    But the one that really puzzles me is that she won TOO MANY Australian Open titles. We all know the circumstances so it's a waste of time to rehash all of that. The point is she showed up and won. And when the other greats of her era showed up, most of the time, she still won.

    Margaret is an all time great above King, above Seles, and above anyone else not named Steffi, Martina, and Chris. She's their peer, and it's for a good reason.

    Like Steffi, there doesn't seem to be a surface that Margaret didn't excel on. I think matchups between these two would be battle royals across the board. I'll let everyone else hash out the numbers. But I think we would do well to remember that Court didn't stumble and back her way into history. She blasted a big hole in it.
     
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  18. conway

    conway Banned

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    I agree with you, but that still doesn't mean Graf wouldn't have the clear advantage in the Graf-Court matchup, which was the OP question, and which is how most of us obviously feel.

    I don't think anyone is faulting her for winning the Australian Open too many times. Of course it is better she won it 11 times and took advantage of the situation, just winning it only 5 or 6 despite the great situation. However for obvious reasons, her slam count which is bloated by the Australian Open status of the time, doesn't make her superior to Graf, Navratilova, or even Evert for most people.

    Non Australian Open titles:

    Wills Moody- 19 (wow)
    Graf- 17
    Evert- 15
    Navratilova- 14
    Court- 13
    Serena Williams- 12
    Lenglen- 12
    King- 11

    Probably gives a more realistic perspective of reality given the Australian Open situation in the 20s, 30s, 60s, 70s, and even 80s. Maybe just unfair for Serena who happened to excel there at a time it was a fully legitimate slam (finally).
     
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  19. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Real thing is: who has seen her play? and at the same time Graf?
     
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  20. Con_T

    Con_T New User

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    Real thing is: who has seen her play? and at the same time Graf?

    Well, I have. Both of them. Many times. Court is probably the only "older" champion that could stay with Graf, if only because she was such a fantastic athlete. King's forehand would never have stood up to Graf's, but Court could have rallied with her off that side.

    I remember the first matches I watched Court.The way she looked, and specially the way she slowly walked before a major final was simply astonishing.Margaret exhuded, breathed and inhaled pride and self confidence.It was really awesome.You could feel " density" ( it was somewhat quite similar to Bjorn Borg making his appearence at the Centre Court but without all that R&R hysteria that surrounded Bjorn)

    This is very true. Margaret oozed concentration and focus in her matches. Laver and Rosewall were the same. Rosewall in the flesh was fantastic. You could feel his competitiveness in the gallery.

    Non Australian Open titles:

    Wills Moody- 19 (wow)

    So interesting. No AO. Missed Wimbledon and US Nats in years when she would have won putting her makeup on and stopped playing the French after she had won the most titles. I read that Moody considered herself a "cup hunter" and she played her career to set the records. She came back to Wimbledon in 1938 to break Lambert-Chamber's/her tie for most titles and did it. Tough! She and Graf are the Garbos of tennis.
     
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  21. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Con T, would you say that Margaret's wide serve to a righty's backhand in the ad court was a real strength? If so, this would've posed a big problem for Graf. Seems like I remember her whacking flat serves out wide landing about 3/4 down the service box sideline. Or am I imagining that?

    One of Graf's three greatest assets was her wide serve in the ad court. None of her righthanded contemporaries could hit that serve as well as she did.

    I'm thinking that Margaret and Steffi had very similar strengths even if their styles were different.
     
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  22. BTURNER

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    if you watch Court rally, you can't help but see Graf. Court hit nothing but slice from the backhand. it was a penetrating and accurate ; she used it to move her opponent around until she could slice that approach or run around her backhand and hit a forcing forehand. The only difference was that Graf thought in terms of ending it back there, and court thought in terms of moving forwards. I just see Graf as dominating almost all those exchanges, because that forehand was better, and she was quicker to retrieve wide shots and quicker to get into position to hit the inside outer. As I said, the speed disparity is the real problem for Court, wherever she might be standing, whatever she might be hitting. Graf will get there.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
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  23. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Serve,volley for Court
    FH and overall backcourt to Stefi
    Tied on the BH
    Physical and mental tie
    Movement is Graf
    So,it goes down to just one question really:
    How sets the pace of the match?
     
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  24. conway

    conway Banned

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    Mental is no tie. Graf is tougher mentally without question. Like I said earlier Court was known for some nerves. Obviously you don't win 20+ slams being mentally weak, but Graf is easily mentally tougher.

    Serve does not go to Court. Graf has one of the best serves ever. At best I would call that a tie.

    I agree with the rest of your breakdown, but that just gives a clear edge overall to Graf. I would also give point construction and court smarts to Graf.

    I would also give the return of serve to Graf by a bit.
     
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  25. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    You hit on something else to consider. What would the effect of Margaret's penetrating sliced backhand be to Graf's forehand. Graf didn't play a lot of right handed players that could hit a penetrating slice down the line. Hana and Jana could do it only occasionally because they really didn't stand up well enough to Graf's power. Gaby and Conchita were better at penetrating crosscourt with the slice than they were down the line (Jana actually was too which explains her odd penchant for approaching crosscourt).

    Margaret was tall, strong, and physically formidable. She probably could handle the power if her movement is good enough.

    I question this because BJK felt that you have to hit to Graf's forehand to open up the court and give you a chance to hit a volley. Also, I think Steffi made more errors hitting traditional forehands rather than the inside out that she favored. Players were able to extract errors from Steffi by hitting low to her forehand and making her have to open up on the shot or hook it with more spin. There just weren't many players good enough to exploit that consistently. I suspect Margaret might be different.
     
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  26. conway

    conway Banned

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    You keep mentioning the right handed thing like it is an advantage, but the opposite is true. A large reason Graf had trouble with Navratilova and Seles is that they were left handed and the things both did well (the left handed hooked serve wide to the backhand, the slice from Navratilova, the lefty angles from Seles) were far more an advantage against Graf, and in exposing her backhand wing, than if they were righties.

    You are right that not many used the sliced backhand down the line as an approach against Graf though. Sabatini would drive it hard down the line with her backhand when she created space off the forehand side of Graf, and approach off that instead. I do think Navratilova approached both down the line and crosscourt off her sliced backhand though (and down the middle often off the forehand) when playing Graf, and Graf handled it reasonably well most of the time. Navratilova unlike Court quite regularly hit both a topspin backhand and slice, but as an approach shot, atleast against Graf, only used the slice.
     
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  27. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I know that both Shriver and late career Evert had success hitting their approaches wide to the Graf forehand. Evert's favorite approach was to hit a her forehand crosscourt, and she did not change it when she was playing Graf. It worked out well. it may have been a successful pattern for Margaret, but I still not convinced.
     
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  28. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    double post
     
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  29. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I loved Evert's crosscourt fh approach because she rushed Martina's bh into a weak reply or an error from Graf. It worked because she hit it low and with depth. It's a risk going to the Graf forehand, but you have to do it.

    I had forgotten about Shriver. As late as 92 when Shriver was only a mere show of herself she is still troubling Graf with her approach and net game.

    The one time Hana beat Steffi, she used the tactics that I suggested for Margaret. Hana made it work on a slow, damp clay court. That's a clay court match you should watch. There highlights of it on youtube.

    And I'm talking about righthanders because Margaret is righthanded just like 99% of the opponents Graf played is, not because I think it's an advantage.
     
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  30. Steffi-forever

    Steffi-forever Semi-Pro

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    :-?
    Graf 18
    Evert 16
    Navratilova 15
     
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  31. Steffi-forever

    Steffi-forever Semi-Pro

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    Court is one of the best S&V ever so Steffi would have to hit A LOT of topspin backhands, something she wasn't too crazy about.
    Depends on the surface, but I think it would have been closer than most posters here are saying...
     
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  32. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I agree she would need it but not as many as you think. Players used to pass all the time with underspin and slice, and Steffi sure did. Court herself never hit a single topspin backhand that I have discovered and she did pretty damn well against serve and volleyers like Hard, Wade, Bueno ( who also had no topspin pass off the backhand), King and Casals. Topspin is a plus if you want to blast it by, but the slice works very well much of the time.
     
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  33. conway

    conway Banned

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    One myth seems to be that Graf did poorly vs Navratilova, demonstrating she did poorly vs serve and volleyers. What a joke from so many respects.

    First off Graf did not do poorly at all vs Navratilova, other than those who think she is the runaway GOAT and should have a clearer edge vs everyone. Their head to had is 9-9 first of all. Since Navratilova played until 1994 there seems to be a myth developed that nearly all their matches were a prime Graf vs a very old Martina. However they played only 4 matches the last 5 years of Navratilova's career. Breaking it down into even more detail they probably played more matches in Martina's prime than Steffi. Personally I think Martina's prime lasted until 1989 (atleast on faster courts, and she only played Graf on a fast court after mid 87). However since many disagree lets say for arguments sake her prime ended in 1987. Graf's prime began in 1988. Even then they played 10 matches in Martina's prime, 8 in Steffi's, most of the matches on faster courts where Martina had much more chance against Steffi than she ever would on slower or high bouncing hard or clay courts. Despite this Steffi is still 9-9 and leads in slam finals 4-2. Graf only had 2 losses ever to a "post prime" Navratilova and 1 of them was in 1991, where her form was beyond abysmal the entire year. After turning 31 the late blooming Navratilova took over 4 years to get another win over Graf, which blows the idea of Graf struggling so much vs even old Martina out of the water too. Now Monica Seles who at the peak of her dominance lost 4 times to a very old Martina (91-early 93), that is another matter. Yet Seles fans praise her endlessly for her great performances vs Martina (lol).

    Meanwhile Martina (the possible GOAT) is the only serve and volley player who did well vs Steffi. Shriver has a poor record, only 1 win after Graf turned 16, and in probably Shriver's best year of tennis ever (1987) she managed only 2 games at Wimbledon, and a much more respectable but still convincing straight set loss at the U.S Open vs a non prime Steffi. Meanwhile Novotna who is a much better player than Shriver, has a terrible record (4-26), and Jana's only 3 wins other than a retirement were in 91-92, Graf's worst 2 years of tennis of her prime. There is false hype McNeil somehow was this super opponent who had the measure of Steffi, but their record is something like 2-12 against McNeil.

    The great Court is not a true all out serve and volleyer like Martina, Shriver, or McNeil. She is closer to a Novotna style player, playing about equaly from the baseline as the net, and biding her time to get in. And as Graf's embarassingly overwhelming record vs Jana demonstrates, that is not the type of player that Graf finds troublesome. While Court is a much greater player than Jana, and I am sure would atleast get more wins per match than that, one thing they have in common is their inability to hit a topspin backhand pass. Graf actually liked to come in vs Jana and take the net from her, knowing her complete inability to hit a backhand pass. She would likely do the same against Court, if it were even necessary.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
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