IF: Tracy Austin was healthy, what could she have achieved?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Gundam, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. Gundam

    Gundam Semi-Pro

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    If Tracy Austin was healthy, what could she have achieved?
    Can we say she was an improved version of Evert with even stronger competitive heart? Probably Graf must have been too much for her too in the end but during the era of Navratilova and Evert, what she would have done if he didn't have health or burnout issue?
     
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  2. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    singlehandedly killed wta tennis probably.
     
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  3. Gundam

    Gundam Semi-Pro

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    I could only watch some videos but my impression was she was super-competitive, focused. Even more so than Evert if it's possible. Stroke-wise, Austin seemed to have more fluid swings than Evert. I am pretty sure Evert must have been quite disturbed when Austin began to make some fuss. It could have been interesting if Evert and Austin threatening Navratilova together.

    BTW, I believe Austin was the player who beat Grat at her debut pro match.
     
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  4. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I thought of Austin as being more mechanical than Evert, especially on the serve and forehand. Her serve was weaker than Chris'. I think Tracy's forehand was stronger but more error prone. I don't know if injuries made a big difference in this, but the last time I saw her play in early 1983, she was out of shape. Anyone that competes as hard as and is as smart as Tracy could win slams. But she would've needed to be in much better shape to stay at the very top, I think.
     
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  5. federerfanatic

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    It is hard to say. Her career as a fully healthy force was over after 1981, even if she did not officialy retire until sometime in 1984. She was fully healthy through the end of 1980, then injuries began to hinder her in 1981, not to the extent she wasnt still a major threat for big titles and rival to Evert and Navratilova, but she did seem a bit down from 1979-1980 still, and it was the first year she began to experience serious health problems, so the two go hand in hand. 1982 and 1983 she was still a top 5 player but already a shadow of her old self, almost certainly due to the same injuries that would soon force her to retire.

    Best case scenario is she would have gone on to be the dominant player for the next decade some people predicted of her to go on to be, back when she began winning major titles and challenging for #1 as a teenager in 1979 and 1980. Worst case scenario is she goes on to many years as a solid #3, who wins only the occasional major, falling short of her early career hype by a long ways, but still having a great career. In that case first a solid #3 behind Evert and Navratilova, as she was much more consistent them Mandlikova as good as Hana was, later #3 behind Graf and Navratilova, and maybe later #3 behind Graf and Seles, again only winning the occasional major, and never truly threatening for #1 again. The real truth is probably something completely in between the two, less then the former, and more then the latter scenarios. Of course, sadly, nobody will ever know.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2007
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  6. federerfanatic

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    I agree with your comparisions of Evert and Austin's games. Tracy Austin had an almost painfully weak serve. Evert's serve was make to look worse by the outstanding Navratilova serve, but it was clearly superior to Austin's. I agree with your comparision of their forehands as well.

    As for the out of shape by early 1983, it was definitely due to injuries. Tracy was a workoholic, she would never have simply allowed herself to get out of shape. The reason her potentialy legendary career was cut so short was she in fact overworked and overplayed at a young age. There was a bit of bad luck, but she even admits she pushed herself a bit too hard so young, and especialy when she got minor injuries she was far too eager and insistent on returning before some of them had fully healed.
     
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  7. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    One thing still sticks out in my mind about Tracy's comeback in 1993 when she beat Katerina Maleeva in San Diego (I think). Someone asked Chris Evert about how Tracy would do and she said that if a match with Tracy came down to a mental challenge, she knew who would win.

    Of course, she was implying that most players (regardless of era) would not be able to take many matches away from someone as tenacious as Austin. Coming from Chris about her old rival, I thought that was an extremely high compliment.
     
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  8. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I agree with your placement of her in the rankings. At worst, I think Chris conquered a mental mountain so to speak by beating Tracy at the US Open in 1980. I have no doubt that a healthy Tracy could've beaten her again. But especially as Chris starting revving up her game in 1984, I think Chris would've gotten the better of her. Martina was overwhelming everyone so I'm not sure that she could've overtaken her either. And Tracy would definitely be more consistent than Hana.

    Would've been interesting to see Tracy in a French or Wimbledon final. I think she might've fared better at the Australian overall than Wimbledon because of the higher bounces. And the fact that many players thought that the hotter and dryer conditions often made Kooyong play similar to a hardcourt.
     
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  9. CEvertFan

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    I think that Evert was the better player, but I do believe that Tracy would have been loads of trouble for both Evert and Navratilova during the 80's had she not been injured so young. I remember reading about Tracy's personality as well as having been able to see a few of her old matches and it's been said that she treated Evert with something approaching disdain when she first began beating her. She was definitely a force to be reckoned with and I myself have often wondered how different women's tennis in the 80's would have been if she had been healthy throughout.
     
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  10. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I definitely think there was a strain between the two even though they shared a lot of similarities. For whatever reason, Chris had an easier time being one of the girls in the locker room, while Tracy hardly tried. But perhaps that would've changed as she matured. From what I've read, Chris tended to distance herself from players once she perceived them as a threat. So there were a lot of different angles going on at once in that relationship.

    At any rate, I think there's a lot of respect between them now. But a real friendship may not have been possible.
     
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  11. CEvertFan

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    The Evert/Austin rivalry ended 9-8 in Tracy's favor, although Tracy got spanked by Evert in their last match 6-0, 6-0. In all fairness though Tracy was struggling with injuries by this time and clearly wasn't the same player anymore.
     
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  12. federerfanatic

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    In my opinion, watching old tapes of her matches, and reading documentaries of her career, Austin started to show her first slight signs of decline in 1981, the first year she also started to deal with serious injuries. It may sound odd I am saying I believe she was actually starting a decline in 1981 when she won a slam title in 1981 and not 1980. However in 1980 I think she was regarded by most as the best player in the World, she just got unlucky to lose 3-setters to a truly inspired Goolagong in the 1980 Wimbledon semis, and a a truly inspired Evert in the 1980 U.S Open semis. Austin was really picked to win both matches, and both events in fact, and both those great players really had to "play up" if anything to take her down. Austin also may have been over-confident going into both those matches. Plus she chose not to play the French that year, at a time top players didnt all play that particular slam, while Evert did and won, which led to her ending that year #2 ranked.

    However in 1981 while she did win a slam-the U.S Open, she got pretty lucky as her draw ended up with none of her main rivals to face to reach the final. Evert and Navratilova were in the other half, Jaeger was upset, Mandlikova did not end up in her path, nor did Shriver. She then got very fortunate when Navratilova choked badly in the final. One sign of her decline is losing in the quarter of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open in straight sets to Pam Shriver. She had been 9-0 vs Shriver before those back-to-back straight set losses. Now despite Austin beating Shriver 9 times in a row at that point, I would not just state with certainty losing to Shriver shows she was in decline or a slump, since I know Pam was a quality player of that era. However it is pretty strange to lose two times in a row in straight sets, in consecutive slam quarters as turns out, to a player your own age you had beaten 9 times in a row. Plus watching her on tape she just looks a bit weaker to me that year then she had before, not quite as strong, not quite as sharp in her play.

    1982 is when she really shows a big decline in her level though. She doesnt even look like the same player anymore, even though she mantains a credible ranking. Then 1983 she shows another big dropoff. I can see watching her on tape why she retired in early 1984.
     
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  13. CEvertFan

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    Austin is one of those players who I haven't seen very many matches of. Thanks for the synopsis. I will continue my search for older matches, particularly the Evert/Austin 1980 US Open semi, which is at the top of my most wanted list.
     
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  14. Condoleezza

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    She would have won many, many slams.
    Navratilova & Evert would have been left with only about 13-15 slams.

    And don't forget - Austin had a really career-ending injury, not only minor stab wound.


    Condi
     
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  15. Scorch

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    But let me guess:

    Austin would not have troubled Graf at all right?

    p.s.y.c.h.o
     
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  16. Condoleezza

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    Austin and Graf played twice.
    In 1982 when Graf was 13 years old, Tracy won 6-4 6-0.
    And in 1994 when Austin was 30 years old, Steffi won 6-0 6-0.

    No, Austin was worse than Seles against whom Graf is 10-5 H2H. Graf would have won about 90 % of her matches against Austin. Evert and Navratilova though would have had a lot of trouble against a fit Tracy (as could be seen in 1979/81).

    Condi
     
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  17. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    You've never even seen Tracy Austin play, much less know how to gage her performance...........

    The lowest point of Evert's career was 1979 when Tracy got several of her wins against her in the span of 3 weeks. After she took time off from the game, she came back refreshed and was never challenged by Tracy again after the 1980 US Open.

    You like to speak out of both sides of your mouth when it comes to Martina. When it suits your purposes, you act like pre 1982 Martina was pretty good. When it doesn't suit your purposes, you dismiss her and ask why she didn't win grand slams in 1980-1981.

    Stick to what you know........the 1990's. Because you know little about anything else.
     
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  18. Condoleezza

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    I remember her 0-6 0-6 against Graf in 1994. Can't say I was impressed ...

    Because in 1980/81 King and Stove will still in their mid-30ies (enough to be competitive against Navi) and Austin and Jaeger not injured.


    Condi
     
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  19. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Are you actually going to say that Steffi playing Tracy Austin in 1994 was anything like playing her in 1980? You're dumber than I thought.

    Again, you make a big deal of BJK and Stove playing well at the end of their careers. But you still ignore Martina beating Steffi and Monica at age 37. And you don't even know enough about Betty Stove to catch the comparison to Jana Novotna.

    And why are you suddenly patting Andrea Jaeger on the back by saying that Martina was lucky that she was injured? According to you, Andrea was a "clown." I'll tell you this. If Monica hadn't gotten stabbed, a healthy Andrea probably would've won more grand slams than Aranxta did.
     
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  20. Condoleezza

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    Martina never ever beat Steffi at age 37.

    Condi
     
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  21. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Martina turned 37 in 1993, the year she beat Steffi in Tokyo and Monica in Paris. If she wasn't 37, then she was 36. As if it makes a difference. The only reason why I bring it up is that you keep making references to BJK doing well when she was 36, 37.

    You're such a loser...........
     
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  22. Condoleezza

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    Navratilova had a lot of embarrasing losses to very old or very young players in the middle of her career.
    Losses to 36-year-old King, 35-year-old Stove, 15-year-old Jaeger (3 losses!), 15-year-old Austin in the early 80ies. Stove and Jaeger never even were good enough to win a slam!

    Condi
     
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  23. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    And yet Steffi was losing matches and struggling in 3 set wins over Aranxta - who had Seles not been stabbed would likely have been a one slam wonder. And I don't get into what Amanda Coetzer did to Steffi.

    Every player had nemeses from the lower ranks. As you yourself said, all the top players lose to "journeywomen" now and then. Need I bring up a few of Steffi's?
     
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  24. Condoleezza

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    Graf had only one loss against a player older than 34 (Navratilova in 93) and one loss against a player younger than 16 (Hingis in 96).
    Two losses.

    Navratilova lost to King, Stove, Austin, Jaeger (3 times), Capriati.
    Seven losses.

    Tells us a lot, IMO.


    Condi
     
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  25. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Do we want to bring up Steffi's losses to players like Marianne de Swadrt, Barbara Paulus, and the aimless Natasha Zvereva?

    Of course, you must remember a little match Steffi lost to Capriati in Barcelona? I think JenCap had just turned sweet 16. That was before she was even a serious threat to win a slam.

    Let me guess? Steffi was sick that day?

    BTW, if you don't think BJK could've beaten Steffi with eras and equipment equalized, you'd be a lonely person with that ridiculous opinion. As Martina often said, King was the best at breaking a player's game down.
     
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  26. CEvertFan

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    King also had a great mind for tennis and could analyze an opponent's strengths and weaknesses very well.
     
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  27. CEvertFan

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    I would put Jaeger in almost the same category as Austin because if she hadn't had career ending injuries just like Austin then she would have done quite well in the 80's and Austin would have as well.
     
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  28. Condoleezza

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    So we can say that Navratilova's and Evert's slam count are inflated because Austin and Jaeger had career-ending injuries.
    While we can't say that of Graf's tally. After all Seles COULD have played again in August 1993. She CHOSE to wait for 2 years though.

    Condi
     
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  29. ATPballkid

    ATPballkid Professional

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    I do not remember Navratilova or a supporter of Navratilova stabbing Tracy Austin in the back with a knife.

    If only Tracey had been able to continue playing, who knows how good she could have become ...

    We do know this ... she was not winning multiple major titles in a year. She won a U.S. Open in 1979 .. a WTA Tour Championship in 1980 .. and a U.S. Open in 1981.

    Seles, on the other hand, won 2 of the 5 biggest events in women's tennis in 1990 ... 4 of the 5 biggest events in women's tennis in 1991 ... 4 of the 5 biggest events in women's tennis in 1992 ... and Seles beat Graf to win the ONLY Grand Slam event played in 1993 before a Graf fan stabbed Seles in the back with a knife in Germany at the end of April in 1993.

    Big difference ... but thanks for playing ... nice try.
     
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  30. ATPballkid

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    Two very major DIFFERENCES, of course, are as follows:

    1. Tracy Austin never won more than 1 of the 5 biggest events in women's tennis in the same year. Monica Seles won 2 of the 5 biggest events in women's tennis in 1990 .. then, in both 1991 and 1992 Seles won 4 of the 5 biggest events in women's tennis in consecutive years.

    2. Martina Navratilova, nor any supporter or fan ever decided that it was necessary to stab Tracy Austin in the back with a knife, behead her, cut off any of Austin's arms or legs, fire a gun into her or any other such horrific acts which would debilitate Austin from being #1 in women's tennis as a teenager while Austin was winning 10 of the 12 biggest events in women's tennis before such an attack.
     
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  31. ATPballkid

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    LOL ... and, of course, Austin never won more than 1 major singles title in just a 3 year period (1979-1981) ... what led to a Graf fan stabbing the more accomplished teenage phenom in the back with a knife was Seles being #1 and winning 2 of the 5 biggest singles titles in 1990 ... Seles being #1 and winning 4 of the 5 biggest singles titles in 1991 ... Seles being #1 and winning 4 of the 5 biggest singles titles in 1991 ... and, then, Seles winning the only Grand Slam singles title (beating Graf in the final) of 1993 before a fan of Steffi Graf decided that the only thing to do would be to plunge a sharp knife into the back of Monica Seles when Seles was not looking.
     
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  32. ATPballkid

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    No ... that is jealous. The all-time greatest champion does not need knifes in the backs of better players who are in their teenage years while winning 10 of the 12 biggest events in the sport over a 2 or 3 year period.
     
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  33. Condoleezza

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    What's the difference between a player being unable to play because of career-ending injury and a player who received a minor stab wound?

    I tell you, the stabbed player could have played again within weeks, the player with a career-ending injury not.

    So Navi profited from Austin not playing while Austin had no choice left.
    Graf - maybe (we will never know!) - profited from Seles chosing not to play.

    Condi
     
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  34. Condoleezza

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    Totally irrelevant.
    Only if Graf had ordered the attack we could make an asterisk behind her 3 FO/AO slams in 1993/95. She was not responsible in the same way as Navi was not responsible for Austin's career-ending injury.

    Condi
     
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  35. Condoleezza

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    What is this with your "biggest singles titles"?

    Do you really think that a Masters title is sort of a equivalent of a WIMBLEDON title?????? :D :D :D :D

    Oh my God ....


    Condi
     
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  36. FedSampras

    FedSampras Semi-Pro

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    Seles > Graff without KNIFE.
     
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  37. FedSampras

    FedSampras Semi-Pro

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    Your Big nose girl owes half her slams to Gunther whose brutal KNIFING of Seles got rid of the player who was dominating women's tennis and leaving the ugly big nose girl:D way behind.
     
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  38. ATPballkid

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    There was only one attacker in the Seles case. If the guy who did the attack on Seles had been doing it for Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario it would have been a different thing ... I would change my statements to reflect that the horrific attack on Seles had been to the benefit of Arantxa Sanchez Vicario ... but this simply was not the case. The attack was CLEARLY by a German man who was a Graf fan. He committed the attack on Seles for the benefit of Graf ... and it was, indeed, Graf who most benefitted from the attack on Seles (and the absence of Seles in 4 of the 5 major events she had successfully defended her titles in before the attack -- the Australian Open, the French Open, the U.S. Open and the WTA Tour Championships).
     
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  39. ATPballkid

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    Health is a part of the game ... the better players try to stay healthy for a reason .. of course, there are times when the best players are stabbed in the back with a knife so that lesser players can have a chance to win ... but those occasions, fortunately, are very rare in the sport.
     
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  40. TheNatural

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    Seles won 9 of 40 slams she participated in during her career. 22.5%
    Graf won 22/56 39.3%

    In Seles's last 25 slams , Seles won 1/25 slams 4%, in her last 24 she won 0/24, 0%.. Graf won 12 of her last 25. 48%

    Seles had ample chances to win more slams in the 40 she participated in.




     
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  41. ATPballkid

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    I am not sure how well Maureen Connolly would have done after returning from her horseback riding accident .... I am not sure how Tracy Austin would have done if she had been able to truly return after her injuries.

    Obviously, Monica Seles was not as good after being off for 2 or 3 years when she returned from being stabbed in the back with a knife in April 1993 by a jealous Graf fan.

    TOTALLY beside the point.

    Seles won 10 of the 12 biggest events in women's tennis between November 1990 and the stabbing ... and then, she was stabbed. Based on the 12 biggest events between the end of 1990 and the early part of 1993 there was nothing whatsoever which would suggest that Monica Seles was not going to continue her dominance over women's tennis going forward.
     
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  42. federerfanatic

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    Back then the Australian and French Open were NOT considered 2 of the 5 biggest womens events however. They just were not valued as highly by the players which is why so many didnt even play. For what was considered the real 5 biggest events then, Austin won more then 1 each of those years.
     
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  43. TheNatural

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    She came back an even better player and notably improved her serve and even learned to volley a bit. I remember seeing Seles Practice with Hingis a few times because they were playing doubled together. Hingis clearly had a lot more talent. She was directing the session and giving Seles tips. Seles played okay but she had some limitations in her strokes which held her back, and thats probbaly why she couldnt win any of her last 24 slams. There were other players that hit better and more cleanly. Seles wasnt that effective from so far back in the court because she didnt have the full natural swing of others. She compensated well by stepping into the court and trying to take the ball a bit early, but she had limitations in her stroke production. Or At least limitations from one of the sides. Players like Hingis also exploited her 2 handed shots from both sides.

     
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  44. FedSampras

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    Of course not. It's clear that ugly big nose Graff was better than OUT OF SHAPE DEPRESSED POST STABBING Monica Seles was at that point. Seles was better than most other players, though of course far from peak (she lost to Novotna at the FO, for crissakes).

    Yes - the GraFan stabber got exactly what he wanted. He desperately wanted Graf to be #1 and winning the lion's share of the slams again, but he had absolutely no confidence that Steffi could do that by herself. Why would he? Graf had been a solid #2 for 2+ years.

    So he gave her the help she needed.
     
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  45. FedSampras

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    Graf was always the clear #2 for the *whole time* that Seles was #1. She was never less than #2, and never had less slam wins than anyone other than Seles.

    Once MS was stabbed and taken out, everyone could tell that Graf was going to dominate once again. My immediate reaction was "Graf is going to win everything in sight". And she did.

    That's why it's hard to call Graf "*best ever" - much of the accomplishments (about half her slam wins) that support that accolade were achieved after Seles was stabbed. That's all tainted with the KNIFE to a certain degree.
     
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  46. FedSampras

    FedSampras Semi-Pro

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    Seles was clearly better than Graf in 91-93 and led 2-1 in Slam victories. She led 4-3 since 1990 in matches. play In stats terms winning 8 GS, 3 ye WTA champs she was a solid no. 1 in *absolute terms*. Once again, who cares if you weren'/t impressed. Obviously Graf and Parche were.

    I think the hardest thing for you to take is that if Graf* was the *greatest player ever, how could another player in the middle of her reign win 8 of 9 GS and 3 WTA champs, plus be ahead of Graf 3-1 in GS finals? It really is unprecedented, for such a young dominant champ to be passed by so decisively and completely.

    It happened to both Evert who was eclipsed by Navrativlova and by Navratilova when Graf came around, but in both cases a clearly aging player was surpassed. In Graff's case, she was all of 22 or 23 when Seles surpassed her.

    Since there is no logical reason, the easiest thing to do is to try and deconstruct the other players accomplishments (Seles). It's an old trick.
     
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  47. FedSampras

    FedSampras Semi-Pro

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    That's right, Seles rose when Graf was sub-par, and was stabbed when Graf was peaking again...uh huh... 1993 Graf was back to peak levels (she won 4 GS in a row)

    To the eternal chagrin of the Grafan Seles was #1 in the middle of the so called "Graf' reign, thus the revisionist history.
     
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  48. ATPballkid

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    #1 ... and Navratilova was able to win more than just 1 major title in 1979 and 1981 (the years Austin won the U.S. Open, her only Grand Slam singles titles).

    Meanwhile, Graf could not win more than 1 of the 5 biggest events in women's tennis during the years 1990-1993 while Seles won 2 of the 5 biggest events in women's tennis in 1991 and 4 of the 5 biggest events in women's tennis in both 1991 and 1992.

    In fact, from the time that Seles started dominating the biggest events in women's tennis with her first win at the 1990 French Open, Graf was unable to win any of the 5 major events in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993 until after Seles had been stabbed in the back with a knife by one of Graf's fans in April 1993.

    Again, a very big difference.
     
    #48
  49. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

    Joined:
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    Fed and ATP I totally agree with your views on the Seles/Graf thing and that's the main reason I don't consider Graf the best ever. Her record is padded by not having Seles there from 1993 on. And for those who feel that Monica was a better player when she came back, I think you should watch some of her post-stabbing matches again. She was clearly not the same player physically, and even more importantly, mentally.

    I will concede that the women's game was a lot more focused on power after Monica came back than it was before she left (Seles was the biggest hitter on the women's tour by far in 1990-93) and a depressed, out of shape Seles wasn't able to keep up the pace. I do think the stabbing was always in her mind every time she stepped out on a tennis court after the incident. How could it not be?? I'm also willing to give Graf some credit for coming through and actually winning the Slams she did, but it was clearly made easier for her than it would have been if Seles had never been taken out of the game for almost 3 years.

    In ranking the best women ever, I have to put Martina 1st closely followed by Evert and then Graf as a very close 3rd with Court 4th and King 5th. If Tracy Austin and Monica Seles had been able to complete their careers uninterrupted, then that list might be very different.
     
    #49
  50. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Messages:
    948
    Federerfanatic, I broke out my partial copy of the 1983 Family Circle Cup final between Martina and Tracy. And Tracy looked better than what I had remembered. For some reason I pictured her being overweight. But I think it was just a time in Tracy life where her body was changing.

    She hit some great shots in the first set before Martina took control. I very much wish that she would'n't have been upset by Durie (great win for Jo) at the French that year. We never got to see her play Chris at that tournament. Even though Chris would've been tough to beat as she seemed to be rising to a challenge against Martina on her best surface and at her best tournament.
     
    #50

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