Frank Deford: "Graf most Overrated Tennis Player Ever"

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

  1. ilove.juju

    ilove.juju New User

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    The point he makes in his article is valid though. Entering the French open 1990, Graf held 9 grand slams titles to Seles none.
    Entering Hamburg in spring 1993, Monica Seles had 8 grand slam titles and Graf 11. So out of the last 12 slam played, Seles took 8 and Graf took 2. That's a huge difference.

    The head to head favored Graf because she won the first 3 matches they played, Seles being a 15 year old rookie in 1989. Seles then lead the rivalry 4-3, which is close, but 3 of the 4 wins were GS finals where it matters most.

    Though Graf posted a great win against seles in 1992 in Wimbledon, she could not find ways to beat her at the Australian Open 1993 where she never came close to victory.

    So in my mind, Seles could have well continued to win at least on slower surfaces (AO, FO), Graf on grass and maybe on the USO hardcourts. It's unlikely that Seles would have gone from winning 4 of the 5 biggest titles 2 years ni a row, starting 1993 with a GS win (and losing only one match) to losing all her titles and big matches had the stabbing not occured.
     
  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    To put this in perspective, Seles won 32 of her first 63 tournaments entered pre stabbing. After the stabbing she won 21 of her next 105.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2009
  3. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    graf

    Well, we R talking 2 different things here...skill vs. accomplishments. Regardless of the circumstances, you cannot take Steffi's accomplishments away from her (nor Margaret Court's for that matter). I think there is credibility in the fact that timing of Steffi's career helped her...Martina and Chris were older (tho' still quite good) when she was on the rise. And, Monica's stabbing clearly took a prime competitor off the boards. The others, like Arantxa, were not quite of the same caliber as Monica. Think this for a moment, if Chris had no Martina, or Martina no Chris, what would their GS totals be like? For that reason, I tend to put Steffi behind Martina and Chris, in that order. But Steffi has to be high on the GOAT list, regardless. She pulled off some big wins over the years.

    Davenport and Capriati, IMHO, were underachievers...they should have won a lot more GS than they did...but, they did score some key wins over Steffi early on (everyone likes to forget the Barcelona Olympics) and exposed some of the weaknesses in her game. Once the Williams sisters came along, the writing was on the wall for Steffi, and even Hingis for that matter.
     
  4. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Of course DeFord is right. Im surprised there was much debate about this.
     
  5. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Absolutely, which is why Graf is 3-2 against Venus and won their last and biggest match at Wimbledon even though she was basically a cripple and about to retire. She is also 1-1 against Serena, both matches being 7-5 in the final set even though again Graf was an old woman by then. Talk about being pwned, poor Graf...
     
  6. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    Graf was superior on grass (Wimbledon), fast HC (USU) and indoors.
    Seles on slow HC (AO).
    On clay (FO) both were about equal.
     
  7. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    But was the stabbing the cause for her worse record in later years?

    And what was the cause for Graf making 13 consecutive slam finals in 1987-90 but only 4 of 10 after that?

    So many questions ...
     
  8. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    Navratilova won 15 of her 18 slams between fall of 1981 and summer of 1987. Who were here opponents?
    Evert, Jaeger and Kathy Jordan.

    Whom did Evert beat in slam finals?
    Navratilova four times (three times at FO), Goolagong three times, Mandlikova three times, Morozova and Turnbull twice, Shriver, Ruzici, Jausovec and teenage Sukova.


    The Williams sisters?
    A clearly over-the-hill Graf (with many losses to journeywomen she easily beat in earlier years) overtook 19-year-old Venus (who won 6 tournaments that year) in the WTA rankings in 1999.
     
  9. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    "Overrated" meaning almost everybody thinks she is the GOAT?
    Yes, hard to swallow for some Americans ...
    :lol::lol::lol::lol:
     
  10. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    Funny how Venus started to win Wimbledons suddenly when Graf wasn't there anymore ...
     
  11. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Henry Kaspar is bang on here. Deford lambasts Graf for not having an elite opponent, but doesn't bother to look closely at the opponents of Navratilova and Evert. If we really try to spin things to our advantage, we can make a case for why those two are overrated as well.

    Deford simply claims, carelessly, that Martina's opponent, Evert, was a great one and better than Graf's opponents. And he bases this, apparently, on Evert's great overall resume - but ignores the fact that Evert was nowhere near her peak in the 1980s.

    The OP's post is simply another appeal to authority. Here's a historian, his opinion is better than yours and that is that.

    However all that I see is bad writing and poor logic. It's not who he is that matters, nor even what he says. It's how he says it.
     
  12. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    It is laughable to suggest Capriati was a tough opponent for Graf. Graf went 10-1 vs Capriati, and in 5 slam meetings beteen the 2 (3 of those in 1993 when Capriati was already 17 and had been top 8 ranked for 3 years) she won all 5 in straight sets. People like to forget about the Olympics final loss? More like people dont bother to bring it up since in the big picture of their history it was of little relevance. Considering they played 5 times in slams it was only the 6th, 7th, 8th, or so most important match they ever played and the 5 most important Capriati was whooped, and it was her only win in their 11 meetings, so overall she was Graf's lapdog.

    Capriati is not underachiever. She in fact a huge overachiever. How the heck did she win 3 slams when she was only good enough to win 14 tournaments, and had losing records with half of the top 10 during the 13 months she won her 3 slams. One of the luckiest players in history to win that many, and her 2002 Australian Open still stands as the luckiest slam win in tennis history.

    When the Williams came it was all over for Graf? Graf's prime had been prematurely ended by a myriad of injuries already 3 years earlier. She was a complete shadow of herself after the end of 1996. Even playing a reduced schedule to all the injuries (she only played half of the slams from 97-99), she was still all of a sudden taking losses to the likes of Appelmans, Serena, Coetzer, Halard, Frazier, Sugiyama, Schyder, Kournikova, the kind of embarassing losses she had 1 or 2 of every 5 years during her 10 year prime. Because of all these injuries 1999 was her last year, already 3 years removed from her injury shortened prime. Yet she still went 3-3 vs the Williams that year and won her biggest meeting with Venus at Wimbledon. She also split her meetings with Davenport in late 98-99 despite that Lindsay was at her peak and Graf far from hers.

    Your post is an epic fail.
     
  13. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    That's the big question but it is clearly one of the possible reasons.
     
  14. flying24

    flying24 Banned

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    The stabbing is one reason Seles won less after she returned but only one. The others would be:

    -Graf wasnt losing regularly before finals like during her early 90s slump.

    -She had completely perfect luck with healthy the 3 years before just nearly up to the stabbing. This was never going to last forever, as it doesnt with any player. She already had her first
    significant illness layoff, missing 6 weeks, just before the fateful Hamburg event.

    -the emergence of Hingis, who was not only a great player but a bad matchup for Seles.

    -the late blooming Novotna had improved further, and was a tougher matchup for Seles than were Sanchez and Martinez. Even in the early 90s when Jana was barely a top 10 player Seles had a hard time beating her in their matches.

    -later on the emergence of the enormous power hitters- Davenport and the Williams, who were horrible matchups for Seles. Interesting to note an earlier poster mentioned them being tough for Graf, but in fact those women were far worse matchups for Seles than they were for Graf. By contrast the early 90s the other top 5 players like Navratilova, Sabatini, and Sanchez were worse matchups for Graf than Seles, which was to Monica's benefit.

    -the difficulty in staying in your prime or peak, whatever you consider it, for that long a duration of time, even for the greatest players.

    -the personal tragedy she had to deal with, with her fathers illness and subsequent death.
     
  15. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Note that I did not say she was not competitive with them, but her time had passed. A new, younger, more powerful bunch of girls was arriving. This is how/why Davenport trumped her at Wimbledon, her very best surface.
     
  16. flying24

    flying24 Banned

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    Graf in 1999 was a shadow of the player she used to be and she still went 5-5 vs the new gaurd of Venus, Serena, Hingis, and Davenport who all were at or close to their best. Had her time passed? Maybe but it had little to do with other players, and all to do with her own body breaking down. Graf of 1996 would pound Davenport on grass, only on hard courts would they even have competitive matches.
     
  17. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    1. U R a Capriati hater. If the girl had her head on straight, she would've won more GS events. The skills were there, but the head was messed up. But, we'll never know. And, If Graf was so far superior, she should have won an Olympics final round match over her....at the time, it was a very shocking win. And an embarrassment for Steffi, plain and simple.

    2. I will say what I said a moment ago...the matter is not that Steffi could not be competitive; rather, a new generation of much more powerful hitters was on its way. Steffi's time had passed, much like Chris's and Martina's.. Steffi losing to Davenport at Wimbledon was very telling...changing of the guard so to speak. Steffi was not going to dominate the way she had previously. Injuries are part of the game; unfortunate she had them, but tell that to Tracy Austin while U R at it...
     
  18. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    LOL I am not a Capriati hater, you on the other hand are apparently a blind Capriati fanatic. While I readily admit Capriati is not my favorite player but my evaluation of her is still quite objective and in line with what most think. Tennis Magazine recently rated her only the 9th greatest player of the past decade, below 4 women who won fewer slams this decade than she did, including Davenport who only won 1 this decade. What does that tell you? Others who know the game recognize she got an extreme amount of luck to even win 3 slams, let alone more than that. Such things as her scant 14 tour titles, her poor head to heads vs nearly all other top players of her eras including ones with only 1 or 2 slams (or in a few cases 0), her complete dominance at the hands of all the greatest people she faced apart from Serena (including Graf), her never making a Wimbledon or U.S Open final, all serve as clear indications of this truth the vast majority also recognize.

    You really make a fool of yourself with your Graf comment. So Graf is now suddenly now is not vastly superior and does not completely own Capriati just because she lost 1 match to her in the Olympic final, LOL! I guess Marc Rosset is superior to Jim Courier now too right. No mention at all of the FACTS I pointed out such as Capriati's pitiful 1-10 head to head with Steffi Graf and that she lost all 5 of their grand slam meetings in straight sets. The Olympics in tennis is nowhere near as big as a grand slam, many would argue not even as big as a tier 1 tournament. Delude yourself as you wish but Capriati was overall a **** easy opponent for Graf, and she was Graf's doormat. The Olympic win was a highlight of Capriati's career, and her one shining moment in her history of otherwise complete schooling at the hands of her master Graf. Their very next match Capriati was back in her place, winning a mere 1 game.
     
  19. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    If you count their one exhibition match (1999 Hong Kong), Graf's head to head versus Serena is 2-1 (for Graf).
     
  20. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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  21. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    Steffi wasn't fit in the 1999 Wimbledon final.

    Or do you really want to say Davenport of 1999 would have a trace of a chance against a, say, 1988/89 Graf???:shock::shock:
     
  22. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Prime Davenport who played one of the best matches of her career that day still only beat way past her prime about to retire hamstring injured Graf by a tight score of 6-4 7-5, managing to convert both break points she was offered, the ONLY 2 break points she was offered.
     
  23. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    And now let's imagine how a match between a prime Graf, playing one of the best matches of her career, against a way past her prime about to retire hamstring injured Davenport would have looked like.

    6-0 6-0 in Graf's favour, that's for sure.
    But would Davenport have reached deuce or 30-30 even once ... ?
     
  24. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    No, actually JulesB was very, very low. All his pro-Seles-Graf-bashing was really just a "cry for help."

    And we didn't hear him, and now he's gone from us forever. Boo hoo.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2009
  25. boris becker 1

    boris becker 1 Rookie

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    uh ********.
     
  26. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    It is unfortunate jrepac has to promote great players in their own right like Davenport and Capriati to levels well beyond their capacity, such as hypothetically being a huge thorn for a prime Graf. Atleast Davenport you can argue did score alot of wins (Graf still had her share too) vs Graf in the twilight of her career during her own peak years. Plus Davenport did score 1 win and have some close matches with Graf even in 96 which was Graf's last truly great prime year, and when Davenport was still out of shape and on the rise. So while I think prime Graf would still have the clear edge overall, I could atleast see some arguments for those who think Davenport could be a tough opponent, particularly on hard courts which is her best surface by far. However even resorting to Capriati as "exposing" Graf or being some serious threat to Graf, by milking such a straw as her lone win in the Olympic final, when she was embarassingly owned by Graf their whole careers is really desperate and cheap. Overrating players to such extreme proportions does them more harm than favors however. It causes others to tear these players down in order to accurately demonstrate the faultiness of the outlandish claims made about them, which they dont deserve it. If you like a particular player, argue them within their own weight class, dont try and inflate their abilities to completely unreasonable proportions.
     
  27. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    If the match was on grass and a prime Graf played Davenport in say 2008, the score would indeed most likely be brutal. It sure as heck would not have been an extremely tight 2 setter decided by a few points, with the winner hitting 2 fewer winners.
     
  28. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Poor Lindsay gets no respect.:)

    Yes a prime Graf of course would crush an over the hill Davenport. Prime Graf may crush anyone who is slightly over the hill. Heck prime Graf would crush almost anyone in their prime. lol. But give Lindsay some credit, she not that bad. I think her serve would allow her to win some game off Graf in her prime.
     
  29. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    I actually think on hard courts Davenport would give Graf some very tough battles, and score some wins. I think absolute prime Williams are a worse matchup for Davenport on hard courts than Graf, but prime Graf of course lasted alot long than prime Williams. I think on grass Davenport would probably be unable to beat a prime Graf due to her mobility issues, although her serve and return of serve prowess would cause some close matches.
     
  30. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Can anyone enlighten me about Margaret Court's record. There's an asterisk attached to her 24 singles titles that she won many at the Australian Championships when "few quality players made the long, grueling trip to downunder."

    Is this true?
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  31. statto

    statto Professional

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    IIRC she won 11 of her slams at the AO. Either way, she still won 13 other slams, so while she isn't the best player in the women's game, she's definitely top five.

    The fact that all of the OP's top five are American makes it clear what his motivations are. Graf was amazing, probably the best female tennis player ever.
     
  32. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Legend

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    On Hardcourts Davenports angles, serve and just power would definitely allow her to hang with Graf in their respective primes. Davenport's forehand vs Graf's on a Hardcourt would be interesting, the Graf forehand overall is better but on a hardcourt Davenport's would stand the best shot of going toe to toe with Graf's. Davenport would probably try to attack the Graf backhand and on a hardcourt would be able to move Graf around and dictate play. On grass however Graf would likely crush Lindsay, so to speak. She move so what she did to seles, make her hoof it around the court and run her into the ground. Davenport would be able to get games from her serve, but even her return would be negated once Graf got her on the move. Davenport would keep herself in the match with her striking, angles, serve and forehand, graf would make davenport run herself into the ground.
     
  33. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Graf played Lindsay at Wimby and lost.
     
  34. flying24

    flying24 Banned

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    Yeah in the same summer Julie freaking Halard even beat Graf, and Graf had lost 3 sets at Wimbledon before the final- 2 of those to De Swaardt and Lucic. Graf lucked out at the French with Hingis's meltdown but she was a shadow of the player she used to be at that point. Boredone is talking about prime Graf vs prime Davenport. 99 Wimbledon final was peak Davenport vs shadow of the player she used to be Graf. And most people expected Graf to win that particular match even at that point in their careers, but Davenport played the grass court match of her life (she still says that) and Graf had an off day even for her own diminished abilities of 1999.
     
  35. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    De Swaardt is not a good example, that type of player gives Graf fits, in 1992 she also took a set off Steffi at Wimbledon, and she beat Graf once.
     
  36. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Legend

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    I was talking prime vs prime, Graf was not in her prime in 1999 anymore despite the fact that she won the French (which she arguably only did because the crowd got to Hingis and cracked her), and she still only offered Lindsay 2 break points, which Lindsay won to win the match.
     
  37. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    If Graf had the desire to win that match, she would have one it, fit or not. Lindsay Davenport doesn't get enough credit for that match, she ripped some of those low slices and was in her zone. If Graf played the way she played against venus she would have won. In her prime or not. The desire was gone. Look closely at the match and the Venus Williams match. Graf rarely showed any signs of wanting to win that final. She looked like it was over. Even in that frame of mind, she won more points than Lindsay. I guess Graf was tired of fighting. She has done it all her career, mostly against forces who weren't on the other side of the net. We saw the glimpes of the brilliant Graf, but her tennissoul left her after the quarterfinal. I have never seen her perform like she did in the final. Many of Graf's epic matches were won with her mind, and that was gone that day. In her prime she would beat anyone in their prime.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  38. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Legend

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    Thats my point, Graf by then wasn't in her prime mentally or physically anymore, in her prime she likely would have beaten Lindsay that day, Davenport played great tennis, all in all better then I expected from her if I am being honest, but it was, as you said, clear that Graf had mentally retired from the sport already despite being physically on the court with Lindsay.
     
  39. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    It was a strange thing to see, that's why I don't like watching that final. Chris Evert once said that she has never seen Graf play ( no matter the round, no matter the opponent, she treated all as important) like she didn't care. It was a strange sight. I believe her when she said in that match she felt her career was over. When you read an article like the OP placed, it's such a sad and low way of taking a shot at someone who played no matter what the odds. What also bugs me the people and players who criticized Seles pre- stabbing and were all of a sudden on her bandwagon post-stabbing. (Navratilova, Shriver, to name a few)
     
  40. Texastennis

    Texastennis Rookie

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    Agree she was totally out of gas and knew it. That turned out to be her last completed match I believe - subsequently defaulted midmatch against Capriati in an exo and defaulted in her last tournament match at La Costa too.
     
  41. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    Davenport shouldnt be downplayed here either. Her win over Graf in the 99 Wimbledon final was still an outstanding performance. The flaw is one trying to make that one match out to believe Davenport would have the overall edge over a prime Graf, especialy on a natural surface, let alone be far too much for her to handle. That prophecy is completely false.

    However I dont think Graf would completely own Davenport to the extreme she did say Capriati, Sukova, Fernandez either. Sabatini and Sanchez Vicario have beaten Graf a quarter of the times they played her around, and Davenport is a better player than than Sabatini atleast. Matchup wise she creates some problems too. Graf would have the overall edge, but Davenport would still be a tough opponent. She is one of the unluckiest players in history to only win 3 slams IMO, she really is better than that. She could easily have between 5-7 slams.

    Davenport was never going to be a top level all time great mind you. However she has enough power and weapons I am not sure if there is any player in history who would completely whitewash her. She would have some wins over anyone.
     
  42. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I agree the the general gist of the above but want to point out the special nature of the Sabatini - Graf rivalry not duplicated by Davenport. Graf like so many players had problems with the unique nature of the Sabatini game . The heavy spin both top and slice she created induced headaches. The top drove Graf further behind the baseline and the slice dug holes in the dirt. As Evert once pointed out, she Evert) had trouble finding a hitting partner to prepare her for a Sabatini match cuz no one could put that kind of work on it! "No one hits the ball like Gabriella " complicating matters was the fact Gabby and Graf were doubles partners so she could read Steffi's patterns and anticipate the forehand earlier and last Gabby had gained confidence and the variety to keep Steffi off balance. Gabby had quite a string of victories in the middle of that rivalry, to the point where she, not Evert, Navratilova, Sanchez or anyone was Steffi's only real consistent danger pre Seles for a couple of years.
     
  43. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    Agree with your post, can't believe someone would call Davenport a better tennisplayer. Gabriela was one of the most talent players, she had more strokes than Graf, but lacked in crucial departments. I think her game when on gave Graf more problems than the powerhitters.
     
  44. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    As a matter of fact she didn't.
    That's only an urban legend.
     
  45. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    sabatini

    I'm not sure Gabby would do so well against Lindsay at her very best...

    but, Gabriela seemed to give Steffi fits...
     
  46. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    Good point you make, has all to do with match ups. Graf had more trouble against counterpunchers and attacking players (S&V) than against agressive baseliners.
     
  47. TennisLurker

    TennisLurker New User

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    Capriati and Davenport are both underachievers.

    Capriati was a teen sensation like Graf, Sabatini and Seles, at a very young age she was making slam semifinals, challenging and sometimes beating top players.
    She should have been in her primer around 95, 96 and 97, she should have been competing for slams all the 90's but she wan't because she became a teen pothead. She wasted the best years of her career.

    She won three slams in what should have been the last years of a successful career.

    You can see how good she was in the way that even fat and out of shape she would manage to take prime Serena to three sets so often.
    Capriati (or used to be) the only big hitter who could move around the court as well as a william sister, she wan't powerful but slow like Pierce, Davenport or Sharapova

    The Williams had the edge on the first serve and backhand, but Capriati had the edge on the Forehand and on her ability to not make unforced errors, that is why Capriati was such a bad match up for Hingis.

    Hingis could beat slow power players by moving them around the court.
    Hingis could rarely beat the fast Williams by milking uforced errors from them

    But Capriati could move as well as a William Sister, smash the ball with her forehand, and keep her shots inside the court, and play really long points without netting or hitting the ball wide or long.
    That was a nightmare for Hingis.


    Davenport was a underachiever for less dramatic reasons, she was very fat. She had the game to win slams in 1995 and 1995, unfortunately she also had a low of extra weight. Once she got fit, the improvement was sudden and huge.

    I agree on Graf being overrated, because competition in the last three slams of 93, 94, 95 and 96 was very poor.
     
  48. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Graf didn't even win any of the last 3 slams in 1994, she only won the Australian Open that year. And the only reason the competition was 'poor' was because she was head and shoulders above everyone else. Not her fault that she was a tennis goddess.
     
  49. TennisLurker

    TennisLurker New User

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    How many Slams would Serena win with Conchita and Arantxa as 2 and 3?
     
  50. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    Go to sleep and stay asleep..
     

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