Frank Deford: "Graf most Overrated Tennis Player Ever"

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by julesb, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    The famous and highly espected Tennis historian Frank Deford 8 years ago picked Steffi Graf as the most overrated tennis player ever:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1023423/index.htm

     
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  2. Fedfan1234

    Fedfan1234 Rookie

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    I think you should change well respected historian into something less flattering, like the worlds most overrated historian.
    His opinion has probably something to do with her not being from the good old USA. Some Americans are this way, if she was an American the story would be completely different. He is just saying if Seles was still around. Well she wasn't! Don't count slams she did not win. Don't forget the head to head is 10-5 in favor of Graf, so not very fair to just add a couple for Seles. An old Graf also defeated Williams multiple times before she retired. I think it was 1-1 vs Serena and 3-2 vs Venus in head to heads. Hingis 7-2 head to head. Thus she can't be that bad. not to mention Davenport 8-6, Capriati 10-1. If you have to come up with arguments like weak era, I would say you are a weak historian and not much of a tennis fan.
     
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  3. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Seles' stabbing and subsequent hiatus from the game is a valid point to make regarding Graf's competition, but there's this other factor called peak play level, and there are many pros and fans who believe that Graf's peak level was higher than either Martina's or Chrissie's. Mind you, Navratilova is the female GOAT in my book, but simply harping on Steffi's competition (or lack thereof) ain't gonna knock her off the pedestal.
     
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  4. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Graf's peak play was probably better than Evert's but not Martina's. Martina in 1983-1984 lost only 3 matches. Graf in 1988-1989 lost 5 matches. Martina past her prime at ages 29 and 30 in 1986-1987 dominated prime Graf, reducing her to winning ony 1 slam vs Martina's 4 and crushing her in the finals of Wimbledon and the U.S Open.
     
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  5. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    julesb, I must disagree that Graf was in her "prime" in '86-'87. She was only 17-18 years old then, for Pete's sake. I can't think of any player (female or male), however precious, who hits her prime so early, if not prematurely. Anyway I do think Martina is the GOAT. Just don't think the competition factor alone disqualifies Graf from the top plume.
     
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  6. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    OK in that case I guess Seles wasnt even in her prime when she dominated womens tennis over a prime Graf in 1991 and 1992 winning 6 out of 8 slams. After all she was only 17 and 18 those two years too.
     
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  7. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Are you ever going to let this go Jules? Frank Deford probably never even watched Graf play a single match in his life. He talks about numbers but nothing about her game.
     
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  8. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Frank Deford wrote a famous and top selling biography on Bill Tilden. He covered tennis for Sport Illustrated since the early 1960s for nearly three decades. He is a highly respected authority of the sport and if you think he hasnt watched Graf play many times you are out to lunch. In the late 80s when Graf was on the rise he covered her many times and spoke somewhat highly of her back then.
     
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  9. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Actually, julesb, I'd say yeah. Plus the Martina-Seles comparison doesn't hold water. Just look at the age differential in each case.
     
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  10. MichaelChang

    MichaelChang Hall of Fame

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    Graf is surely one of the most achieved female tennis player. For some so-called "historian" or rather who-the-hell-cares artical writer to call Graf the most overrated, is just plain ridiculous. The question is WHO ARE YOU to write her off?
     
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  11. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    OK so you are now admitting a pre-prime Seles dominated the womens game over a prime Graf. What more is there to argue about Graf's overratedness do we need. A pre-prme Graf could hardly win anything vs an aging Navratilova, needing to reach her own prime in 1988 to start winning more regularly over an even older Martina. However a pre-prime Seles dominated the womens game over a prime Graf in 91 and 92. I am at a loss what else is needed to be said now that we have confirmed this reality.

    You are right the age differential is vastly different which is my whole point anyway. When Graf was 17 and 18 she won only 1 slam with a past her prme much older 29 and 30 year old Navratilova on top. When Seles was 17 and 18 she won 6 out of 8 slams with a 22 and 23 year old prime Graf there.
     
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  12. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Six months ago, I would have been objectively receptive to hearing the anti-Graf-pro-Seles arguments.

    But, unfortunately, Julesb's crazed crusade has prejudiced me against Seles forever.

    Ho hum.
     
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  13. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Although I am a big Graf fan I've always liked and respected Seles. Unfortunately all these threads have made me seem like a Seles-hater. :(
     
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  14. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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  15. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    julesb, you beat this dead horse so hard it verges on necrophilia.
     
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  16. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    I think even most necrophiliacs would find this obsession distasteful.
     
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  17. schap02

    schap02 Semi-Pro

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    Graf was AWESOME

    at tennis, not looking
     
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  18. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    What I meant was, Graf was 11 or 12 years younger when she faced Martina, but only 5 years older against Seles. That's the age differential I was referring to. And I wouldn't say '91 and '92 were Graf's prime years. Heck, she made only 3 Slam finals in the two-year interval, and none of the early-round losses were to Seles. IIRC this was a tough period in her personal life, which explains in part the relatively subpar results.

    And here's another angle that often gets omitted. Let's say the stabbing had never happened and Seles stuck around the whole time. Had Graf managed to win 18 (give or take a few) majors despite that, the smaller # of her titles would've actually made her GOAT case stronger, as paradoxical as that sounds.

    One can disagree on how Graf, Navratilova and Evert (or Court, for that matter) should be ranked. What is undeniable is that they all belong up there.
     
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  19. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    another ignorant post. you do realize that players reach their peak at different times, don't you? some players reach it in their teens and some not until their late 20's. graf's "prime" was from 1987 - 1990 when she was 18-21. graf's peak has nothing to do with the age that seles achieved her peak.
     
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  20. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Good to see someone with a brain.

    These are my all time rankings:

    1. Martina Navratilova
    2. Chris Evert
    3. Serena Williams
    4. Monica Seles
    5. Venus Williams
    6. Maureen Connolly
    7. Margaret Court
    8. Suzanne Lenglen
    9. Helen Wills Moody
    10. Billie Jean King
    11. Evonne Goolagong
    12. Maria Bueno
    13. Jennifer Capriati
    14. Lindsay Davenport
    15. Steffi Graf
     
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  21. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Put that overrated Graf at 20 where she belongs.
     
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  22. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Seles #4??? But Jules, you've been saying for months and months that Seles is the GOAT. And now you've knocked her down to #4, even below Serena? Could you explain the change of heart?
     
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  23. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    OK so Graf in her prime of 1987 (according to you) was destroyed by a 30 year old Navratilova in the Wimbledon and U.S Open finals and would have even lost the French Open final had Martina not choked serving for it. Graf would have never returned to her "prime" according to her fans if the Seles stabbing had never occured. Of course with Seles stabbed she returned to her "prime" in 1993, 1995, 1996 by winning 3 of 4 slams.
     
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  24. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    LOL yeah good one, #20. How pathetic that the almighty Seles was 5-10 against someone so low.
     
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  25. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Could you suggest me 5 more names to put over her. I would be happy to bump her there if you do.
     
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  26. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Seles would have been the GOAT without the stabbing. Unfortunately the stabbing is part of the reality of her life and career and prevented her from reaching that. Nonetheless she deserves a place close to the top. Serena is well on her way to being the female GOAT probably, a place Seles would already be occupying if cruel fate did not intervene.
     
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  27. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    you can't pick out 1 match (the 1987 us open) to completely dimiss when a player's prime is. navratilova (who was still a great player at the time) won that match, plain and simple. navratilova in 1987 was a great player and was the greatest grass court player of all time. it doesn't surpirse me won bit that she won wimbledon that year. it doesn't change the great year that graf had that year. and i'm not even going to respond to "would have lost if..." comments.

    if you want to pick out one match then look at the 1992 wimbledon final where graf dominated seles. does that mean seles wasn't in her prime in 1992? of course not b/c it's just one match.

    and for the record, graf/seles were 3-3 head to head from the 1990 french open to the date of the stabbing. yes, seles was 3-1 in grand slams but all 3 of seles' wins were close matches. graf's win was total domination. and let's not forget that seles completely skipped out on wimbledon in 1991 for "shin splints". we all know who would have won if they had met in that tournament. i think we all know that if it was any other grand slam she would have played in it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
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  28. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    I am not saying Graf wasnt in her prime in 1987. My stance is she was always in her prime in 1987, and that she was destroyed in the Wimbledon nd U.S Open finals by a 30 year old Navratilova, and barely scraped past her in the French Open final. In big matches Martina at 30 was owning a prime Graf.

    Apparently you are forgetting the "no grunting" fiasco at that years Wimbledon that led to that very one sided match. Anyway the competitiveness of the matches does not matter all that much, just the result. 3-1 Seles in slam finals is all that really matters, along with Seles winning 7 of the 8 slam events she played before the stabbing.

    Graf nearly lost to Sabatini in the 91 Wimbledon final. Seles would probably have beaten her and completed the Calender Slam had she been healthy and able to play.
     
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  29. goyeji

    goyeji Banned

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    Thanks for posting the article - nice find! Frank Deford really does a terrific job analysing the competition that Graf had to face. Some of the comments in this thread are quite shocking, on the other hand.
     
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  30. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    1st point - martina (who most consider a top 3 player of all time) was still in her prime in 1987, or possibly one year removed from it. there is no shame in losing to navratilova, certainly not on grass. the us open was a match that graf was probably favored to win, but she didn't. hats off to martina. she wasn't being "owned" by martina though, as she had defeated martina several times outside of the grand slam.

    2nd point - if seles was so "mentally strong" as you said then she should have been able to adjust to not being able to grunt. martina called her out and seles got rattled. that says more about seles than about graf/navratilova. and yes the competitiveness does matter. if proves that graf could have certainly beaten seles at the other 3 majors, as the results could have gone either way. the result at wimbledon says that seles would have had a hard time ever winning there.

    3rd point - there you go, making assumptions. seles refused to even show up b/c she knew that she didn't have much of a chance. again, that says a lot about seles. she seemed just fine when she played an exhibition in NJ (on hard courts) just after wimbledon.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
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  31. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    I never understood what happened with the whole 1991 Wimbledon thing. All I know is she didn't play and then she and her family were all photographed wearing wigs :shock:
     
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  32. bebots

    bebots Rookie

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    I'm really sorry Steffi turned you down when you hit on her. Ouch, we can really see your pain.
     
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  33. the green god

    the green god Semi-Pro

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    Good lord Jules, are you still at this. You must be a sad, pathetic, frustrated person to continue to be fixated on this. Here is Jules sample day. Wake up, think about Steffi. Eat breakfast, wish Steffi was the one who got stabbed. Live my dreary existence of a life and go to bed thinking about Steffi. Please move on, for your sake and especially ours. Steffi ended up getting the best of Monica for reasons neither could control. The sad part is that closing in on 20 years later Steffi's STILL getting the best of you.
     
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  34. llama

    llama Rookie

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    julesb - your obsessive hatred of Graf borders on the unstable. I urge you to get some help. And I hope for Graf's sake you live no where near Las Vegas.
     
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  35. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    You forgot a few events in the typical day of JulesB: Clean my room before Mom complains again, spend hours looking at internet porn, draw horns and a mustache on new poster of Steffi Graf, talk to lawyer about restraining order, give Mom a sponge bath.

    :razz:
     
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  36. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Don't worry about Graf though. The only loser in this is Julesb. Both Graf and Seles are going out and spending their millions of dollars in prize money, Graf is going home to a loving husband and kids, and neither have any idea who Julesb is. Don't be angry at Jules, pity her. :)
     
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  37. Tiberius

    Tiberius Banned

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    Wow was this article written by gj011?

    Oh and btw the article is complete rubbish! Ifs and buts don't matter...
     
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  38. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    "But" they do which is why why we the argument for the mythical GOAT.
     
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  39. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    And people who claim Graf is #20 on the GOAT list are why arguments against her status have absolutely no credibility... :)
     
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  40. Henry Kaspar

    Henry Kaspar Rookie

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    A respected tennis historian shoud at least sort his basic facts out. Evert peaked several years before Navratilova. There was only a brief period around 1982 when both were of roughly equal strenght. BY 1982 Evert had won 15 of her 18 major titles, while Navratilova won 15 of her 18 titles FROM 1982.

    And Graf won of course only 6 of her 22 titles while Seles was off the tour, two of them at Wimbledon. Given that Graf owned Seles on grass and also led the head-to-head comparison by the time the mad man knifed Seles, it's rather likely that Graf would have won 18 plus slams also without Parche.
     
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  41. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    Ha ha, well said.
    Only brainless idiots would claim Graf is 20th on the GOAT list.
     
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  42. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    That's your first problem - basing your argument on the opinion of someone with a limited knowledge of the game. Your second problem would come from not knowing much about the game yourself. Anyone who ranks Evert, Serena Williams, Seles and Venus Williams above Margaret Court is nothing short of a cretin and puts personal bias above facts.
     
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  43. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Deford covered tennis for Si for 25 years. I would say his knowledge is less limited than yours.
     
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  44. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Arent you from Australia? The country of Margaret Court?
     
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  45. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Australia, nice country, lots of happy people there. Birthplace of the GOAT.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
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  46. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    #46
  47. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    You missed someone. I fixed it for you.
     
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  48. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    Jules-eee.....My darling! You're alive!! I can't describe the feeling. Truly. Madly. Deeply.

    Back from the depths of despair, desperate for declaring your total detestation for a tennis player who stole your heart all those years ago.

    (Now, are you getting the help I offered before? Therapy can do wonders my dear!)

    Jules-ee my dear.....Have A Super Wonderful Day!!
     
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  49. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    Can I just say how "lucky" we are to have our resident evil 'expert' Jules-b letting us know 22 years after the fact that indeed, Steffi Graf, 1 month into her #1 reign was in her prime.

    Kind of ironic, because one month into Mons' #1 reign, she got crushed by some two bit German gal named Graf 64,63 in the finals of the US Hard courts.

    PS Jules - was Graf out of her prime when she whipped Seles in the 1992 wimbledon final? Inquiring minds wanna know!
     
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  50. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Graf legitimately whooped Seles in that U.S Hard courts final you refer to. However that was not a grand slam, you know the events that really matter most. In those matches that really matter most Seles held a distinctive 3-1 edge over her German rival during this time period. No matter how much people want to spin it other ways, bringing up smaller tournament results, talking about how close the matches were, whining about the surface distribution (not Monica's fault Graf could not beat 34 year old Navratilova and Sanchez Vicario to play Monica in a U.S Open final) that very glaring fact remains, and hence why experts of the game like Mr. Deford correctly question Graf's record.

    As for your comparision 17-18 year old prime Graf (she turned 18 in the middle of the year) was thrashing 30 year old aging Navratilova in non slam matches but being mostly thrashed by Navratilova when it really mattered. By contrast prime 21-23 year old Graf was beating prime 17-19 year old prime Seles in their smaller non slam matces as well, but again falling short most times when it really mattered in the slams. Funnily enough there is a pattern here. The very good player- Graf, coming out on top in those matches that didnt mean so much, while the great player in both cases- Navratilova in 87, Seles in 91-early 93, coming out on top when it really mattered in the slams. That is kind of the parralel to Graf vs Sabatini, except it is now Graf who is reduced to the Sabatini small tourney queen by her own superiors Navratilova and Seles.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
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