Did Capriati once have potential to be the best ever

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by grafforehand, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. grafforehand

    grafforehand Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    97
    I know it sounds crazy now but Capriati was undoubtably the best 15 year old tennis player in history. She should have won the 91 U.S Open, which she choked twice serving for her semifinal vs Seles, and Navratilova herself admits Capriati would have beaten her in the final had she won that. She would have been the only 15 year old in tennis history to win a slam. Capriati is probably also the best 13 year old player ever (Worlds #1 junior at 13) and 14 year old player (slam semifinalist at 14) evert.

    So based on that had she been managed properly and fulfilled her massive potential did she even have potential to become the best ever. After 1991 she got off track IMO. Even though she remained top 10 in 92 and 93, she did not improve on her 1991 level of tennis which for someone that young is crazy. Her burnout and subsequent retirement for awhile could have been seen alot sooner than it did.

    She did come back in the early 2000s and against all odds won 3 majors, and solidified herself one of the minor greats of her era and a future HOF. Those 3 majors were even a bit lucky as there were probably 6 or 7 people better than her even those years in tennis ability (she regularly lost to Venus, Serena, Mauresmo, Davenport, Henin, Clijsters even those years), but she did well to catch some lucky breaks and peak at the right times. Still by then it was far too late for her to come anywhere near her once held potential.

    Had she had better people managing her and bringing her up, and had she fulfilled all the potential she showed at 13-15 could she have been the female GOAT though.
     
    #1
  2. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Messages:
    3,541
    Location:
    OREGON
    That is a hell of a lot of ifs ands and buts. Frankly I don't think she was ever worthy of the hype as a youngster. She hit a good hard heavy ball off both wings. Tracy Austin with modern training and rackets with all the virtues and limitations that suggests.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
    #2
  3. robow7

    robow7 Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    967
    The only thing that might have limited her top level other than her mental / life break down was her foot speed.
     
    #3
  4. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Messages:
    3,541
    Location:
    OREGON
    Well I also doubt she ever would have had a big serve and physical game of the /Williams, nor would she ever have the kind of versatility or court sense to come up with options and answers beyond her basic ground game.
     
    #4
  5. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Messages:
    923
    Martina would have relished the chance to play Capriati in that final, certainly more so than Seles. Even though she was well past her prime experience would've been on her side.

    Capriati was never that smart of a player. As good as she was, she was always limited mentally.
     
    #5
  6. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Not better than Jaeger or Austin although much stronger than them.Of course, Hingis was a better player.
     
    #6
  7. grafforehand

    grafforehand Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    97
    Martina has actually admitted many times Capriati would have beaten her in that years U.S Open final, including recently when talking about Capriati's Hall of Fame induction.

    Remember Capriati had beaten Navratilova in straight sets at Wimbledon that year. This is grass Martina's best surface and probably Capriati's worst. What on earth would make Navratilova win over Capriati on Capriati's best surface after that only a couple months later.

    Anyway Navratilova played a really weak final and admitted so in the trophy presentation, and had 5 times the unforced errors of Seles. She never would have beaten on fire Capriati playing like that, unless Capriati massively choked being in her first major final.

    As for primes 15 year old Capriati was probably much further from her prime even than a 34 year old Navratilova, or atleast in theory should have been if she went on to develop properly. There have been numerous young to mid 30 year old players in history winning slams but never a 15 year old one. That is a moot point anyway though.
     
    #7
  8. grafforehand

    grafforehand Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    97
    Hingis was not a better player at 15. Hingis never had a hope of winning a slam at 15 and spent most of the year outside the top 12, unlike Capriati who was already solidly top 6 almost all year at 16

    Capriati came up at a way tougher time than young Hingis did. Hingis came up when Graf went down hard with injuries (after the 96 season), early bloomer Seles was already way past her prime at 23 and also dealing with her fathers death and fat even by her 20s standards, Sanchez was burnt out and finished as a contender. Capriati came up when you had peak Seles, prime Graf, Navratilova still strong, Sabatini playing her best ever tennis, Sanchez in her prime. No comparision really.

    Jaeger? She never had the potential of Capriati. Just didnt have the same firepower, weapons, or will to win. Austin is like a much poorer version (in an earlier era) of Capriati's baseline bashing game, but with a much poorer serve, and much weaker volleys (Capriati actually had quite nice volleys even if she didnt use them much).
     
    #8
  9. grafforehand

    grafforehand Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    97
    Capriati at her best was extremely fast. In foot speed she was just barely behind the to Williams and two Belgians at her peak in the early 2000s. Imagine had she developed properly, she might have been even stronger once she matured in that area. One reason she was a thorn in the side of even prime Serena was that got so many balls back and frusterated the heck out of Serena. After all unlike most players, Capriati wasnt going to outslug Serena.

    I hate that this thread makes me sound like a Capriati uber since I am not. I just think her potential was amazing, given what she was already doing at 15 and wondering what she might have become if she didnt have a nutty father running her career, and the massive pressures she faced. Along with perhaps pscyhological problems that were never diagnosed based on some of her recent behavior (suicided attempt, cocaine use, beating up ex boyfriend).
     
    #9

Share This Page