Evert on clay - hitting flat

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Arafel, May 3, 2009.

  1. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    I was just watching my DVD of the 85 French Open final between Evert and Navratilova and was really struck by how flat Evert hit her strokes. Though there were women who employed head topspin and moonballs (Jaeger, for instance), Evert hit fairly flat off both wings, and yet she has the record for most French Open titles.

    It makes for an interesting contrast with the men of the time. The players who were successful on clay in the 70s and 80s (Borg, Vilas, Wilander and Lendl) all hit with a lot of topspin. I've seen videos of Borg vs. Vilas, and the two practically hit moonballs the entire match. The same can be said of some of the Lendl vs. Wilander matches I've seen.
     
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  2. plasma

    plasma Banned

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    while she hit flat she aimed for consistency and went a good margin over the net. I always thought her strokes and style were boring, too controlled; mechanical and Lipton plunge...I WAN"T LIPTON!!! sorry...anyways I love fluid players, Navratilova and Sukova were good, they let the racquet do the work instead of their muscles...
     
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  3. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    I always thought Evert was the absolute purest striker of the ball in the history of the game. Perfection may be boring or some. But Chris was very fluid with her strokes and her movement.

    Too many of the Chrissie clones were mechanical and controlled. And so much less fluid, which is why few of them ever did anything significant.

    Funny comment about Navratilova letting her racquet do the work instead of her muscles. I thought Martina was the one with muscles, and Chris was the scrawny, not as athletic one.?! Also, I never thought sukova had muscles. And I never thought she was that fluid. Hana Mandlikova was a very fluid player. Helena was a bit choppier.

    But Evert on clay, she knew how to mix things up. She did hit mostly flat, but had such precision she could afford to hit flatter than most.
     
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  4. grafrules

    grafrules Banned

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    I am surprised when I heard people talk about Evert as a non-power player. For her time she was one of the hardest hitters, both back with a wood racquet and then the early years of her playing with a graphite before she really started to age out of her prime. I remember Renee Richards who coached Martina for awhile telling the press it was almost comedic how Evert was labeled by some as not being a hard hitter.
     
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  5. BTURNER

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    I think she drives her backhand flat and hard, but puts more top on the forehand crosscourt to keep Martina back on the baseline with the bounce up higher to her backhand. She uses a sidespin/underspin shot to change direction of the rally down the line on the forehand She uses moonballs just as change of pace or during a longer rally to get some extra breathing time. When she hit with wood, she hit much flatter. Some added top kept control and consistency on clay. And you are right about her hitting hard for her era. She also hit mighty close to the sidelines for such a consistent player. It did not gain lots of winners, but it did require extra stretching and footwork that paid off with fatigue.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2009
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  6. BTURNER

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    She was so often the aggressor in rallies, particularly against other baseliners. But of course if most folks watch the finals, with either Martina or Hana, she seems far more defensive than she really was, because they were a bit more desperate to get the short ball to approach, lest they be trapped in her quicksand.

    "I always thought Evert was the absolute purest striker of the ball in the history of the game. Perfection may be boring or some. But Chris was very fluid with her strokes and her movement."

    So true. She was incredibly economical in both stroke production and footwork, always in position, but not overrunning, with consistent application of the fundamentals with each stroke. Her serve was not the most fluid seamless piece of art, and her backhand overhead was plain SCARY. The other shots were all so solid and sure and deftly disguised.
     
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  7. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I'm surprised too. Chris didn't necessarily go for a lot of winners, but she was often able to open up the court by hitting so flat. That's also how she kept players on the run too. As BJK would say, champions "force the issue." It was more obvious with herself, Martina, Steffi, Monica, etc. But Chris had her own way of forcing the issue too. Most players just couldn't keep up with her.
     
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  8. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    Agreed. Watching the 85 French final, I was amazed at how she was able to open up the court with flat, sharply angled shots. She could also hit some several topspin shots that stayed low, like the forehand pass she hit at break point 4-3 in the final set to get a break and serve for the set. It would make a modern proud (her follow through ends up by her right ear!).

    It was her footwork that really impressed me though. She constantly moved her feet to get in position to do the most with the ball.
     
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  9. morten

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    she reminded me of a female Borg..
     
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  10. CEvertFan

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    For groundstrokes, Evert usually hit flat off both sides but could hit with topspin if she wanted to. She could also hit with underspin and sidespin off both sides. She was one of the hardest hitters of her era, especially off the backhand side. She did hit flatter with wood than she did with graphite.

    I always thought she was always so balanced and her strokes were very fluid and economical but some people found her mechanical. Her backhand especially was always a thing of beauty to watch and deadly in it's time as well. Great anticipation, great footwork and great technique are also a big part of what made her shots so great and so accurate.

    In her prime, Evert was known for running players into the ground. She would pick away at all an opponent's weaknesses and exploit them to the best of her ability.
     
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  11. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    I think some of the telecasts just don't do her justice. I've seen matches where it appears like she's not hitting that hard, but I've seen others where the power is readily evident. Granted, she's not hitting Serena Williams or Davenport type power, but she was powerful nonetheless. Watch the 1988 AO final against Graf, second set. A past-her-prime Chrissie is going blow for blow with Graf, power, angles, spin on full display. And, remember, she's doing this consistently with a standard thin-beamed, heavy, 85 sq inch graphite frame. I guarantee the Williams and Davenport would not be as consistent with similar equipment. (In fact, they're not anywhere near as consistent anyway).

    Good thread. Nice to see people appreciatively pick apart Evert's game, which too often is deemed robotic ("she's a consistent baseliner") and the fluidity and nuance isn't appreciated.
     
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  12. tonyg11

    tonyg11 Rookie

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    a lot of players that hit the ball flat like Connors and Evert had amazing shot placement on every stroke. Something which you don't see in todays game. Hitting lines on weaker low flat shots can be just as effective as a huge powerful topsin shot that hits in the middle of the court. Especially on faster low bouncing surfaces.
     
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  13. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Her backhand pass on match point was creamed..my favorite female passing shot of all time is that one right there.
     
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  14. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    Evert was a very smart player. I think she adapted depending on the opponent. When she hit Martina she had no choice but to hit flatter and more penetrating shots to try and keep Martina pinned back and avoid Martina with her "big" game from bullying her. Vs other players she might have played differently. She was an excellent tactician.
     
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  15. gpt

    gpt Professional

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    This is a very interesting thread. Evert is one player who altered her game in order to keep up with new opponents and racquet technology. Her strokes by 1988 were quite different from 1974. I suspect that her grip changed to enable more topspin later in her career. I played local competition tennis from 14 yrs old to about 30 in the early 90's. At the time I stopped I was still using a Pro Kennex Copper Ace. My kids are old enough to play now so I am back on the court using a Wilson Ncode. I cant play the same way as I did with the older racquets.

    Serena Williams could not play her game with an 85 sq in wooden racquet. The other thing Evert did was change her diet and fitness levels in order to keep up with Navratilova. I am sure that prolonged her career. I agree with plasma in that she was not a fluid player but I think her timing, footwork and mental toughness made her great to watch.
     
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  16. BTURNER

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    While that '85 French is a textbook tactical match on Evert's part. It sure wasn't on Martina's. Navratilova kept going with her 'comfort' approach slice down the line to Evert's backhand throughout the first set and early second. Evert was just not missing that backhand that day. Martina of all people, should have known better than to go there on important points, let alone match point. In so many matches throughout Evert's career, big combacks started, when her opponents approached that backhand. No matter how low her confidence or how daunting the score, she always knew that pass was inside begging for release. Check out that comeback win over Geisel at the US open in '71. It was the backhand and its returns that got her back. Check out that last QF against Golarsa, down 3-5, Golarsa approached several times to that backhand. You'd think Martina would know better at match point! Best single passing stroke the women's game ever saw and that is where Martina sent her approach!

    By the way, That was not Evert's best clay game. That showed up in the last 2 sets the following year. Martina brought her 'A' game on court which won a 6-2 set. Evert' brought hers the following two. Martina post loss said she had never been passed that well. She couldn't think of anything she could have done differently to stop Evert.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2009
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  17. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    Yeah. As dramatic as the 85 final was, Evert was still doubting herself a little bit against Martina. She kept letting Navratilova off the hook. She was up 4-2 in the second and had double break point. Then she broke Martina and served for the match at 6-5.

    In the third, she was up 2-0 serving at 40-15, then had an ad in, before Martina broke to get back on serve. Chris then broke back to go up 3-1 and had 40-30 to go up 4-1 on her serve and played too cautiously. Martina actually out-rallied Chris several times in that third set. After Martina held for 3-3, Chris held, then broke and again served for the match, but let Martina back in again.

    It made for great drama, but the match should have been over a lot earlier than it was.
     
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  18. CEvertFan

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    I would have to agree with that - for the first time in her career Evert really began to seriously doubt herself and some of that showed at certain points in the match. She should have won it in straight sets but then we wouldn't have seen that amazing backhand pass down the line on match point. One of the greatest single shots in history.
     
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  19. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    #19
  20. CEvertFan

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    Evert is a very underrated volleyer.
     
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  21. grafrules

    grafrules Banned

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    I think the 85 French Open final really broke the ice mentally for Chris in playing Martina a bit. From 1986 to 1989 even when Chris was really aging faster than Martina (2 years older is a big difference when you get to that age especialy vs the very late blooming Martina) she was still faring much better vs Martina than she had from 1982-1984. It is just unfortunate for her that breakthrough win that broke some of the mental barrier didnt happen earlier.
     
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  22. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    Well, part of it is that Chris didn't start playing with a graphite racquet until 1984, whereas Martina switched in 82. Martina had more power available and it really helped her serve, which made her volleys easier. The 83 US final, Chris was still using her beloved wooden Wilson and she was no match for Martina. It took Chris a little while to get used to graphite, although by the 84 US Open, you could see it was starting to happen for her.
     
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  23. BTURNER

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    Let's not forget her touch. Evert's lob and forehand drop shot won a few points here and there on the clay courts.
     
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  24. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    Wow, watching some of those clips, I'm struck by Evert's speed.

    And, I don't think enough can be said about about her consistent depth. Depth isn't a characteristic that's particularly interesting to talk about, but we all know the extreme importance of hitting deep (unless you consciously are trying to hit shorter). She hit consistently deep better than almost any player.
     
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  25. CEvertFan

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    In her prime she was deceptively quick but even more than that she had superb anticipation and those two things combined allowed her to get to a lot of difficult balls.

    She hit deep consistently better than any other player I ever saw. She loved to push her opponents deep behind the baseline and make them run, run, and run.
     
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  26. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Not many players have a great forehand dropshot. Evert's was darn near perfect.
     
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  27. BTURNER

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    The backhand dropshot so many one- handers had, was something she was envious of. She often said two- handers just couldn't disguise theirs as well. but for a forehand dropshot, her's was exquisite.
     
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  28. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    After watching this video, I am wondering if Evert didn't develop a little more topspin on her shots because of the added power of the graphite PS racquet over the old wooden Wilsons.

    Whaddya think?
     
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  29. BTURNER

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    I already have you beat on that theory and so posted. She had to use more spin to control the power and stay consistent. No doubt she hit the forehand less flat after the change. Backhand really doesn't look much different, just more pace.
     
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  30. CEvertFan

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    And a sound theory it is.


    I think she needed the bit of topspin on the forehand side or the graphite racquet would have made her forehand fly on her and it would have been much less consistent than when she was using her trusty Wilson wood. Nice adjustment on her part.
     
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  31. BTURNER

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    One opponent Evert played on clay ( can't remember) , took a set and said she wished she hadn't. She lost the next two easily and got nothing but cramps and sweat for the close first set. Said it just wasn't worth it.
     
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  32. CEvertFan

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    That's probably because Chris made that opponent do all the running. Evert was very good at running her opponents ragged.

    Another thing that Evert was very good at was not losing more than one match in a row to a player. Virgina Wade said it best, and I quote - “The worse thing you can do to yourself is to beat Chris, because the next time she plays you, she goes out of her way to make it her business to really show you who’s boss.” and for most of Evert's career that quote holds true.
     
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  33. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    Virginia Wade hardly ever beat any out of Court, King, Goolagong, Navratilova, or Evert 2 times in a row so I am sure for her that held true. She was the whooping girl for all 5 of those players throughout her 70s, kind of the least great of the greats kind of role.
     
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  34. BTURNER

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    Its even worse than that. You gotta get your hopes up after a first set victory, beyond all rational hope, then to get taken down in the last two sets 2 and 1 with the cramping and the misery that comes uniquely with those long rallies and realize there never was even a snowball's chance. At least against Martina, it was a mercifully quick demise. Martina made you look slow, weak and clumsy. Evert made you look stupid and junior league.
     
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  35. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    Sounds almost like the difference between prime Sampras and prime Agassi. Or even peak Federer and peak Nadal. Both certain death for the opponent, but merely a different avenue taken to get there.
     
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  36. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Evert handed out more bagels than anyone in history.
     
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  37. CEvertFan

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    I wonder if Evert holds the record for the most bagel sets in the Open era.
     
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  38. BTURNER

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    Here's a tougher trivia question. Name the players that inflicted a bagel on Evert?
     
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  39. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    Navratilova four times: on carpet in 1975, on carpet twice in 1983, once on clay in 1984
    Margaret Court: once on grass in 1972
    Austin: once on carpet in 1980
    Evonne Goolagong three times: once on clay in 1973, twice on grass in 1974
    Billie Jean King: once on grass in 1973
     
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  40. BTURNER

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    Very good! but I have her giving both giving and receiving 5 bagels in her rivalry against Martina. You are also missing two more players who gave her a bagel. I have, what purports to be, a full H to H accounting of all the players she played on the tour and the scores. And as for the number she gave bagels not enough time in my days to type them but rest assured its a lot!
     
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  41. BTURNER

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    As for Martina, She has lost the five bagel sets to Evert, but no other player has bageled more than once in a career, including Fed cup matches. This list has some real nobodys among the 9 left, unlike Evert's. Care to try?
     
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  42. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Mandlikova gave her one of her last bagels at the 1989 Indian Wells tournament, 3-6, 7-6, 6-0. Hana and Chris had not seen one another in almost a year and Chris walked up to her and said that she didn't want to play Hana. To which Hana replied, "I don't want to play you either." :)
     
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  43. CEvertFan

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    They really didn't like each other, did they?
     
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  44. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    OK the bagels I missed were one Navratilova gave Evert in 1978 in Atlanta on carpet in a match Evert still won. Martina bageled her in the middle set and Chris came back to win anyway.

    The other was the Hana one mentioned above.

    The other was shockingly Shriver of all people in a late 1987 win.
     
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  45. BTURNER

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    Okay Here's what I think is the complete list besides the five bagels Evert gave Martina. Austin did it. King, Mandlikova, and Wade gave her an oval set score. So did Helga Mastoff, Seles and Sanchez. The two mystery names are Mona Schallau and a Laurie Tenny.
     
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  46. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    According to her leading internet fan site:

    http://chrisevert.net/PlayerS.html

    and the WTA site:

    http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/players/playerprofiles/PlayerActivity.asp

    She was a bageled in the 3rd set of a Carpet final to Shriver in November 1987.


    I know the fan site is probably more accurate than the WTA site which is loaded with errors but both have the same result in this case. My revised "gave Chris bagels" list would be:

    Martina Navratilova five times: four times on carpet- once in 1975, once in 1978, twice in 1983. Once on clay in 1984.

    Margaret Court once: one time on grass in 1972

    Tracy Austin once: one time on carpet in 1980

    Evonne Goolagong three times: one time on clay in 1973, twice on grass in 1974

    Billie Jean King once: one time on grass in 1973

    Pam Shriver once: one time on carpet in 1987

    Hana Mandlikova once: one time on hard courts in 1989
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2009
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  47. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    Her fan site says that she is 5-0 vs Schallau:

    http://chrisevert.net/PlayerS.html

    3-0 vs Tenney and in fact 4 bagels and 2 breadsticks all in Evert's favor is all they ever had:

    http://chrisevert.net/PlayerT.html

    Her fans site also says she is 7-0 vs Masthoff and never lost a set:

    http://chrisevert.net/PlayerM.html

    I am pretty sure Seles never gave her a bagel. Seles's only win or only sets won were in that Houston match and she didnt win a bagel set in that match. Sanchez didnt either. Both gave Evert a breadstick in their wins over her but not a bagel.

    Here is the final game of Seles's over win over Evert which shows the score as Seles starts to serve for the match:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcGfXThqzD8
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2009
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  48. CEvertFan

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    Evert only played Seles twice, that match in Houston where Evert lost in 3 sets and the US Open match where it was Evert handing out a bagel to Seles in probably the last best match she ever played. She moved and hit so well that day and kept Seles out of her comfort zone. Good stuff.

    Here are the wins over Schallau:

    MONA SCHALLAU, later Guerrant (USA) 5:0

    1974 Wimbledon 3R W 7-5, 6-1
    1975 Akron, OH 2R W 6-3, 6-1
    1975 Houston, TX QF W 6-0, 6-2
    1975 Rye, NY QF W 6-0, 6-4
    1976 Philadelphia, PA 2R W 6-1, 6-3

    and Tenney:

    LAURIE TENNEY (USA) 3:0

    1972 U.S. Open 1R W 6-1, 6-1
    1973 Atlantic City, NJ SF W 6-0, 6-0
    1974 Toronto, Ontario QF W 6-0, 6-0

    The only bagels I see are the ones given by Evert.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2009
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  49. BTURNER

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    "Okay Here's what I think is the complete list besides the five bagels Evert gave Martina. Austin did it. King, Mandlikova, and Wade gave her an oval set score. So did Helga Mastoff, Seles and Sanchez. The two mystery names are Mona Schallau and a Laurie Tenny"

    You completely missed the subject of that post. Or I miscommunicated Those were the people who gave MARTINA NAVRATILOVA bagels. Evert handed martina 5 these other women each did the dirty deed once to MARTINA.
     
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  50. grafselesfan

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    Wow it is pretty amazing a player like Laurie Tenney who could only get 2 games off Evert in 3 matches (that is one of the biggest series of beatdowns I can think of ever between players on tour) was able to hand Martina Navratilova at any point in her career a bagel. Pretty amazing stat.
     
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