Frank Deford: "Graf most Overrated Tennis Player Ever"

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

  1. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    Oh Jules, Mom's calling. Time for her sponge bath....
     
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  2. llama

    llama Rookie

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    Oh, so what you're saying is that Seles couldn't even win an event that didn't even matter?
     
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  3. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    What he's saying is none gives a darn that Steffi beat her in the US Hardcourts when Monica had beaten in 3-4 grand slams
     
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  4. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    And yet if Seles had won that match I bet my house you'd be using it as another reason why she is the second coming of Christ...
     
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  5. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    No we wouldnt. Notice we havent even brought up Seles's thrashing of Graf in the Berlin final in 1990 at only 16 years either, the same way Graf thrashed new #1 Seles in that U.S hard courts final. That is because we realize what Graftards dont seem to realize, those smaller events mean nothing in the big picture to the great players in the game, it is who does better in big events that matter. And before knife man entered the picture that was unquestionably Seles. Graf was reduced to winnings slams only on grass, her best surface and Seles's worst, already at the tender age of 21 washed up from winning anymore slams on hard courts or clay seemingly.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
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  6. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    That would be Graf then, who leads Seles 6-4 in grand slams :)
     
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  7. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Seles at only ages 16-19 led prime 20-23 year old Graf 3-1 in slam finals and overall slam meetings. Graf's edge is based upon 2 slam wins over 15 year old Seles, and 2 more after being knifed in the back and nearly killed by a Graf worshipper. In 99 both players were past their past their primes clearly so I would give credence to those also and they split 1-1, so 4-2 Seles is their reasonable slam head to head unless you think matches with 15 year old pre pubsecent girls while at your own career peak, or matches with women just returning after 2 and a half years off of nearly being killed by a knife on the tennis court while you are still in your prime are legitimate matches to compare players by.
     
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  8. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    But Seles after her comeback could still beat most of the players she would beat before. For example her H2H with Sanchez Vicario was 10-1 before the stabbing, and 10-2 after. Granted Seles was a nightmare matchup for Sanchez Vicario but you get my drift. However she was unable to beat Graf who was clearly playing better in 1995-6 compared to the early 90s. You don't need to look at her results to see that, just watching her play you can see she got scarily good. Why is it that Seles could make the final of the US Open in the first comeback grand slam as she did before her stabbing, and only Graf could stop her? It's a convenient excuse to say Seles was out of shape but as I said, she could still beat all her previous opponents and if she truly is as good as you say and if Graf is truly as overrated as you say, Seles should have been able to beat her.
     
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  9. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    You are right on one thing. Seles was able to dominate almost all the players that made up Graf's pathetic "competition" (LOL) after the Seles stabbing. Only Graf, Novotna, and on her hyde days the sparatic nutty Pierce were good enough to even beat the much weakened, fatter, traumatized Seles upon her return to tennis. The rest of the so called top players, including the overrated lucky Sanchez Vicario- Graf's opponent in 6 slam finals after the Seles stabbing, the talentless Cowchita Martinez, Huber, Majoli, Date, Coetzer, Fernandez, the youngest Maleeva, a past her prime Sabatini were still completely hopeless vs Seles and dominated by her. It wasnt until the next generation of talented players like Hingis, Davenport, and the Williams emerged that a much weakened, eating disorder blimped Seles was dropped outside the dominant few players of the game. Heck Davenport when she was fat as a U-haul herself in 96, Hingis at only 15 in 96, and players of the new generation who never managed a slam vs new field like Rubin and Spirlea, even gave Seles a much tougher time than the talentless Graf contemporaries I mentioned. What does that say about the lame ass field of wannabees Graf piled up so many more slams against after Seles was stabbed. Graf herself ducked from this new field of women, conveniently becoming too "injured" to play regularly from 97 onwards after having mighty trouble with a 15 year old Hingis several times in 1996, and then smartly retiring on a high note after her fluke final French Open title and Wimbledon final.

    I will give Graf credit for one thing. She is an opportunist. When the opportunities that keep seeming to fall from the sky for her come she gobbles them up like a hungry wolf being fed meat. Rarely has an athlete in any sport who was so far from being the greatest ever been able to delude over half of experts and the public she is somehow by taking advantage of so many outrageously lucky pieces of fortune and timing, and by being intuitive and clever enough to duck for cover at the right moments when things that could expose how overrated she really is come into the fray.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
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  10. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    She did have her knee rebuilt Jules, not exactly trivial.
    But you still haven't answered my question really. If Graf is so much worse than Seles, why didn't she have her number even if she was slightly overweight? Surely the GOAT who could've been should've been able to overcome such an overrated hack. Even in 1998 Seles couldn't beat a crippled post-prime Graf. Why did she lose to the hideous Graf???
    On a sidenote, Graf didn't win Wimbledon in 1999, she was runner-up.
     
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  11. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    b/n the 1990 french open and the date of the stabbing:

    Graf 3
    Seles 3

    nobody was "dominating" anyone during that stage.
     
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  12. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Seles was not slightly overweight in her comeback. She was most times 50 pounds overweight (sometimes 30, sometimes 70, it varied as her new revelations explained why). She was in worse shape than Serena Williams was back in 2005 for crying out loud, LOL! She also developed knee tendonitis and a chronic shoulder injury due to pushing her body while not being in shape anymore.
     
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  13. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    that would be all sweet and dandy if you could explain why anyone gives a damn about the U.S hard court Championships or Hamburg, where 2 of Graf's 3 wins came. Like Peter Bodo said in Tennis Magazine a number of years back in referencing Sampras's 1990 comments after winning the Philadelphia title "legends are only made it 4 places, none of them are Philadelphia".
     
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  14. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Had she not been stabbed I believe Seles would have dominated the tour for 3-4 more years at least. While away she actually grew 3 inches I believe. Had she been playing she would have found even greater angles on the greatest groundstrokes in women's history.
     
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  15. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Excellent points, and her serve was also improving. She outserved Graf in the 1993 Australian Open final which had never happened in their matches before. The one aspect of her game that was better after the stabbing than before was the serve, so imagine what it would have been like. It would have made her even tougher to play and beat.
     
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  16. Giggs The Red Devil

    Giggs The Red Devil Rookie

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    Julesb, we got your point. Thank your very much.
     
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  17. Rhinosaur

    Rhinosaur Rookie

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    Capriati and Davenport? Are you f-ing high?
     
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  18. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    BTW in that 10-8 French final that Graf lovers use as "proof" that Steffi was somehow going to start beating Monica again. Monica was in control if that 10-8 set. Graf had to struggle mightily to win her games. Monica pressured her and pressured. I never felt like Graf was going to win that match. Being a great player herself she kept tying in the 3rd set but I always felt like she was behind and would lose to the superior player and she did.
     
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  19. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Wow well if Graf 'struggled mightily' to win her games, Seles must've been pretty **** to not finish her off sooner eh?
     
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  20. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    I'm not Jules. Graf is an all time great.
     
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  21. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    I know. You appear to be sane.
     
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  22. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    You can debate the positions after the first 5. However what is clear to me is the top 5 female players of all time are between Seles, Serena, Venus, Navratilova, and Evert. I dont care if the stats make them the top 5 are not, most achieved is not necessarily greatest ever, and those 5 tennis playing ability wise are the 5 best in history. At their best and when they really want to be they outplay everyone else on nearly every surface (obviously with a few exceptions such as excluding Venus on clay and Seles on grass).

    Graf and Court are both great players no doubt but who piled up slams with worthless competition and way overrated as far as their current strong GOAT contention because of it. Court won 11 Aussies by beating up clowns like Jan Lehane and others, but at Wimbledon where the other big guns like Bueno and King were waiting she is held to a meager 3. Graf rose to 22 by by beating up on 30-something Martina and Chris, by Monica conveniently being stabbed out of the way, and by piling up her finals slams just before she ran from cover when Hingis, Venus, Davenport began their ascent.

    The highest I would put Graf of Court is #6 behind the big 5 I mentioned.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
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  23. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    LOL. There are two camps normally in this battle

    1) Seles was clearly better than Graf at the time of the stabbing and would have continued to beat Graf more often than not in the Grand Slams and remained number 1.

    2) Graf and Seles were virtually even at the time of stabbing and Graf's elevated level of play in the post stabbing years would have allowed her to overtake Monica.

    I happen to be in the first camp is all.
     
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  24. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Fair play. Sorry Jules just gets me a bit riled up. :) I usually say that it can be debated forever but a conclusion can probably never be reached which satisfies everyone.
     
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  25. llama

    llama Rookie

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    Just delusional...it's been like this for months....and months....and months...ad nauseum
     
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  26. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Which is what makes it fun and frustrating we will never know. Unlike with Martina and Evert.
     
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  27. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    But Julesb does give Seles fans a bad name. I remember a couple of months ago she was insisting as usual that Monica is the GOAT and also the greatest grass court player of all time, and went on to claim that Virginia Wade is the #2 player of all time. :shock:
    For the record I do like Monica, she's a legend and seems like a great person.
     
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  28. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    No one has ever hit a tennis ball like she did. Her control was freakish and probabaly with an all gut set up. She would have been sick with poly.
     
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  29. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Although I am AWFUL at tennis, on the rare occasion I play I find myself using a two-handed forehand like good old Mon. It makes me feel... secure. It might not be the best choice for me but I only ever play for fun with my friends. I am usually forced to be umpire for them though coz no one wants to play with me:cry:
    Maybe she should be my coach.
     
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  30. Henry Kaspar

    Henry Kaspar Rookie

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    Here is how see ladies' tennis in the open era:

    Group 1a: Court, Graf, Navratilova, Evert. I order them as sketched, but you don't really rank goddesses.

    Group 1b: Seles, King, Serena. The demi-goddesses. Well, make that three-quarters.

    Group 2: Goolagong, Venus, Henin, Hingis, Sanchez-Vicario, Mandlikova, Davenport, Capriati. Superb players who at one point dominated the game, but mere mortals.
     
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  31. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    LOL Sanchez Vicario does not belong in the same group as Venus, Henin, Goolagong, Hingis, and even Mandlikova. That lucky fluke would be sitting on 1 slam today if it were not for the Seles stabbing. Hingis was slapping around Sanchez Vicario like a toy poodle from the first time they played basically.

    Lets look at her slam wins:

    1989 French- her only legitimate slam with a big win over peak Graf in the final

    1994 French- Seles away from the stabbing, Jekyl and Hyde Pierce does the hard work by thrashing Graf in the semis and was rolling to the title bullying Sanchez early in the final until a rain delay gave the youngster in her first slam final too much time to think and Sanchez came through.

    1994 U.S Open- one of the luckiest slams ever. Again Seles off from the stabbing. All the big hitting fast court players- Graf, Pierce, Novotna, in the other half while Sanchez gets the talentless clay courter Cowchita and Date in her half. Then Graf killing her in the final until her back injury halfway through.

    1998 French- maybe even a bigger joke. A pre prime Serena on her worst surface crushing her and 2 points from a 6-4, 6-2 win but choking badly at the end. All kinds of upsets in her half, easy draw from there. Schnyder who had thrashed her twice on clay that year, losing only 3 games twice, chokes on the big occasion and loses in 3 in their quarterfinal. Then clunky clay courter Davenport in the semis who all but has a crummy attitude towards the French and all but tanked the match. Again all the real big clay court guns of the time- Hingis, Venus, Seles, were on the other half. Seles does the hard work, playing one of her best post stabbing matches to thrash Hingis in the semis, since Sanchez was going to be destroyed by Hingis in the final. Then Monica in one of her first events back from her fathers passing runs out of physical and emotional energy in the final. Still would have won 6-3, 6-0 without the easy blown overhead in the first set.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
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  32. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Hi Henry, welcome to the forums. :)
    Nice list, what are your reasons for ranking Court as #1? :)
     
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  33. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Didn't Court win a million Australian Opens against no one and not even posses a topspin backhand?
     
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  34. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    I think that's the main reason people don't take Court into consideration much. She won 11 of her 24 slams at the AO when most people didn't show up. Also much of her career was before the open era. I've never watched her play so it's really difficult for me to say where I'd rank her. I do know however that she's a homophobic meanie :cry::cry::cry:
     
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  35. julesb

    julesb Banned

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    Yeah she is also way overrated. At the big 2 slams of her time she has only 8 titles compared to 10 for her arch rival Billie Jean King, and 7 for her other big rival Bueno whose career was wrecked by injury and illness. Her slam tally is bulked up by a million Aussie Opens like you said, and to a lesser degree a bunch of French Opens facing these weenie clay court fields and she herself even not being a clay courter.
     
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  36. Henry Kaspar

    Henry Kaspar Rookie

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    Basically number of majors. But as said, I have no quibbles if your prefer somone else out of these four.
     
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  37. Fedfan1234

    Fedfan1234 Rookie

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    Really strange to call somebody overrated if she has won that many majors. It must really be an American thing since I only see them use these kinds of arguments(Weak era, no competition), no respect for the players. Really sad thing if you ask me.
    Just respect Graf for what she has done and move on. Nobody can say what would have happened. Seles returned to the tour and did not perform as good as before. Maybe she simply was not as good as some of you remembered and maybe she never quite reached her old form. It is all up to interpretation. Maybe Graf would have won less slams if Seles was still around back then and maybe Graf would have won the same amound of slams and maybe she would even have won more slams(If Seles eliminated some tough competition).
    Let's take an example, If we look at the head to head of Federer vs Hewitt. Everybody would now say that Federer was better, but if he would have been stabbed say in 2003 and out for a long time everybody would say yeah Hewitt had a possitive head to head against Federer of 7-2 Hewitt was better. Now the head to head is 14-7 in Federer's favor. Same thing for Federer vs Nalbandian 2-5 up in 2003 10-8 down now. See how this wouldn't be a fair argument, people change!
    You just can't tell, so there is no reason to be so condescending towards Graf's achievements.
     
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  38. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Well said :)
     
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  39. some6uy008

    some6uy008 Semi-Pro

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    I agree completely. There were even threads on this forum saying she wouldn't have won a single major if it wasn't for or that. THE WOMAN WON 22 GRAND SLAMS! It wasn't like she had one lucky run and barely managed to win a title.
     
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  40. pinot76

    pinot76 New User

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    Graf had won 11 slams before Seles stabbing and that included golden slam and at least 2 wins at each major. Thats impressive to start with. Even when Monica was around and domiating, Steffi was still the second best and was still the best on grass. So she would have surely added to that slam tally.

    The players who benefited the most in Seles's absence were Arantxa, Conchita and Mary Pierce. I don't think they would have won a slam by beating both Graf and Seles in one event. And sadly, they were the ones most opposed to giving Monica the #1 ranking on her return. It was very satisfying to see Monica spank them all on her return. I just wish she had stayed more healthy.
     
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  41. llama

    llama Rookie

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    A very intelligent post. The problem is we are not dealing with a rational person here - so rational argument is a waste of time. What we are dealing with is a person that is so consumed with hatred for an athlete who - in their warped mind - was the cause of a tragic injury to their favourite - that they still cannot let it go a full 10 years after she has retired. It isn't the wacky "statistics" that they drag up and constantly quote that are disturbing - it's the obsessive hatred towards a person they don't even know.
     
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  42. the green god

    the green god Semi-Pro

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    You amaze me. WHO WON THE FREAKING MATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  43. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    ???????????????
     
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  44. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Possession of a topspin backhand was/is no measure of a player's ability. Ken Rosewall didn't possess a topspin backhand and he managed to do fairly well. Jimmy Connors didn't hit a topspin backhand and he eeked out a few wins. Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova were respectively flat/slice players who didn't hit topspin off that wing and I think they won a few matches as well.

    Topspin didn't come into vogue until Borg. Yes, Laver hit a topspin backhand, but if you watch his matches, he rallied and generally relied on his sliced backhand. The topspin was hit when he had the time, opportunity, or was forced to hit it. Players from that era used a slice on the backhand side almost exclusively.

    Borg changed the dynamic on that side. He was the first player I remember who hit more topspin backhands than underspin. Orantes could hit either way, but he too relied on slice 90% of the time.
     
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  45. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Possession of a topspin backhand was/is no measure of a player's ability. Ken Rosewall didn't possess a topspin backhand and he managed to do fairly well. Jimmy Connors didn't hit a topspin backhand and he eeked out a few wins. Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova were respectively flat/slice players who didn't hit topspin off that wing and I think they won a few matches as well.

    Topspin didn't come into vogue until Borg. Yes, Laver hit a topspin backhand, but if you watch his matches, he rallied and generally relied on his sliced backhand. The topspin was hit when he had the time, opportunity, or was forced to hit it. Players from that era used a slice on the backhand side almost exclusively.

    Borg changed the dynamic on that side. He was the first player I remember who hit more topspin backhands than underspin. Orantes could hit either way, but he too relied on slice 90% of the time.
     
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  46. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, the slice has usually been more popular. It wasn't until about thirty years ago that topspin became the rage.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2009
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  47. OroDeSantoro

    OroDeSantoro Rookie

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    An American thing?
     
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  48. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    Yes, thanks for pointing this out. How naive to think otherwise.

    This also needs to be said. Wood racquets and the early graphite/composite racquets didn't make it easy to hit a one-handed, topspin backhand. Given the lack of stiffness of the frame (wood), the distribution of weight (wood and to some extent early graphite/composite), or the overall weight of the frame (early graphite/composite), it just wasn't that easy to hit the ball with both precision and pace/spin on the one-handed, topspin backhand.

    Today, the racquets will let you supinate through the ball for extra spin and extreme direction. I remember trying that with a wood and early graphite racquet. The most I could do with either frame is deliberately let the face of the racquet continue way out toward the target. It wasn't quite supination. But, it did allow for more extreme crosscourt angles and more pace on shots dtl.

    This is important to remember when judging the one-handed backhand shots from the wood to the early graphite era. It would have been interesting to see how good a topspin backhand players like Graf and Sampras might have had if they could have availed themselves of the much lighter and stiffer racquets of today.

    Actually, there is no need to speculate. On the eve of his exhibition matches with Roger Federer, Sampras opined that today's racquets made it possible for him to have the kind of topspin backhand he always wanted. According to him, he hadn't changed his swing at all. The newer racquet was just more responsive. As for Graf, judge for yourself: Here's a link to the '89 Tour Championships --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es2Im8C1TLA. In this match, Graf hits some good topspin backhands and some really poor topspin backhands. It's clearly not the shot her forehand is. She really struggles with control/direction/trajectory at the pace she's trying to hit the shot. (I can sympathize.) Flashforward to 2008, the context an exhibition match with the same Martina. Here's the link--- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M72tcxUI0K8. Is that the same shot? Same swing. More practice? Hardly. Steffi has been retired for 8 years. So, what's different? The racquet. It is lighter and more responsive.

    And, before, the same naive persons claim she just didn't have the talent to do much more with her topspin backhand. Let's remember. She could actively pronate on her serve, one of the first, along with Sampras and Becker, to do so. She could do all sorts of things with her forearm and racquet face on the forehand. With a lighter, more responsive racquet, her topspin backhand would have been a more consistent and more spectacular shot.
     
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  49. Rhinosaur

    Rhinosaur Rookie

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    It's not an "American" thing...it's a "stupid person" thing.
     
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  50. scootad.

    scootad. Semi-Pro

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