Mid 90s Graf vs mid 80s Navratilova

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by conway, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. conway

    conway Banned

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    How would you see this matchup going in a series of 5 matches over 5 majors surfaces. I would see this:

    Clay: Graf wins 4 of 5
    Rebound ace/slow and bouncy hard courts: Graf wins 5 of 5
    Grass: Graf wins 3 of 5
    Carpet: Navratilova wins 3 of 5
    Fast hard court: Navratilova wins 3 of 5 (or Graf 3 of 5, this one is a toss up)

    I know it seems funny I would pick Graf to do slightly better at Wimbledon than carpet or fast hard court, but I base that some on their Wimbledon and U.S open matches. And yes I know Navratilova was probably a bit past her very past at Wimbledon 88 and 89, but those were some intense defeats even considered (yes 3 sets, but combined games won 35-20, lets face it, very decisive wins by Graf). By contrast their U.S open record is 4-1 for Navratilova.
     
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  2. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Martina isn't winning a match on clay The only reason '87 was close was because Graf was still inexperience and nervous.

    Martina wins 3 or maybe 4 on grass. Martina's serve was slipping badly by '88 and she already was a step slower getting into net. Everyone noticed it. Evert said "Martina is vulnerable this year" after playing her.

    Martina has the edge on carpet winning 3 of five

    Graf wins 4 of five on slow hard/ rebound

    fast hard, I give the slight edge to Graf.
     
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  3. conway

    conway Banned

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    So even the Martina that was winning matches vs Evert on clay 6-2, 6-0 and 6-3, 6-1 on clay in 84 would have no chance vs peak Graf?

    I agree Martina was sliding by 88, but even so losing 12 of 13 games in a row and being totally dominated in the 1st and 3rd sets of the 89 final (which went to 3 only since Graf went asleep for the first 3 or 4 games of the 2nd set and still outplayed Martina the rest of the way in the 2nd set overall), I find decisive even for a declining Martina, and hard to look past. Also the 87 final where Martina was playing as well as she ever had at Wimbledon IMO, and a very raw and immature Graf on the grass (miles below her 88-89 grass level) still was basically even with Martina all the way to the break in the 8th game of the 2nd set, and probably should have won the 1st set.

    Hmm interesting given that Martina leads 4-1 at the U.S Open, and even beat Graf there in 91 (granted Graf was in horrible form that year) and was up 6-3, 4-2 up on absolute peak Graf before losing in 3 in 89, in the only loss. Also beating Graf, not really quite at her prime level yet but already ranked #1, 7-6, 6-1 in the 87 final.
     
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  4. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    You :"Fast hard court: Navratilova wins 3 of 5 (or Graf 3 of 5, this one is a toss up)" Me: fast hard, I give the slight edge to Graf.

    Now how much difference is there between my post and yours except I picked your second choice ?
     
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  5. conway

    conway Banned

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    IMO Graf was much further from her prime grass level in 87 than Martina was in 88 (although both were substantial all the same), and despite 87 being straight sets and 88 and 89 being 3 sets, the 87 match overall was closer. In both 88 and 89 Martina won on average 4 games for every 7 Steffi won. In the 87 match a very raw Graf who seemed completely clueless how to play on grass, what would later become her best surface, was closer to 5 games for every 7 Martina won.

    I know it makes sense to think Martina would do better at Wimbledon than the U.S open since Martina is generally regarded as the grass and Wimbledon GOAT (although Graf is regarded as 2nd best, and would have overtaken Martina most likely without her 96/97 prime ending knee surgeries), while Graf is generally regarded as the hard court GOAT. However I find it it hard to look past both the decisive smackdowns of parts of their Wimbledon matches, despite Martina's decline, and conversely Graf's extremely poor record vs Martina at the U.S Open. It might be that despite what it would seem makes sense, Graf preferred to play Martina on grass than a fast hard court, as she sure seemed to have a heck of a lot of trouble with Martina on U.s Open style courts, regardless what phase of their careers they were in.

    As you said though we aren't far apart in any of our estimates anyway.
     
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  6. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    The only thing I can say, is that Martina's confidence and her game, is as almost as completely dependent on her serve, as Graf's is on that forehand. Everything flows from Martina's serve. She stops moving well, the forehand volley goes off, she lunges at shots as she get more desperate. Once that serve slips.... and it had.
     
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  7. conway

    conway Banned

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    Fair enough. My last question is just curious too why you believe Graf would have the slight edge on fast U.S Open style hard courts despite her 1-4 record vs Navratilova at the U.S Open (and Martina choking a huge lead in the only loss too). I know I am not far off you going 3-2 for Martina there, but I even wondered if I was being too generous to Graf given their history there. For some reason Graf was not comfortable playing Martina on a fast hard court ever, less so than grass. I think it is because grass is even faster so with her power and big serve she could keep Martina at the baseline even easier, while a fast hard court is still very fast and fast enough to allow Martina to attack effectively, but just slow enough that Graf's power couldn't keep her on the baseline. Also Graf's sliced serves and sliced backhands, are far more effective on grass and help keep Martina back longer than she likes.
     
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  8. Djokovic2011

    Djokovic2011 G.O.A.T.

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    Clay: Graf 4-1
    Rebound ace: Graf 4-1
    Grass: Martina 3-2
    Fast hardcourt: Martina 3-2
    Carpet: Martina 3-2
     
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  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    That is very realistic.Graf takes 14 matches and Martina takes 11
     
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  10. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    Mid 80's Navratilova doesn't mean 88 or 89 Navratilova to me - I'm thinking 84-85 Martina and during that time she was supremely confident, her serve was working quite well for her and she still hadn't yet lost a step. She would give Graf all she could handle believe me. You could turn it around and say that Graf would also give Navratilova all SHE could handle as well. The only surface where I can see if not being close is clay. Every other surface would be pretty even or even slightly in Navratilova's favor because she was such an all out attacking player in her absolute prime.

    Navratilova kind of reminds me a bit of Federer because she was more of a confidence type player rather than her strength coming from mental toughness. When they both are really confident everything just flows so easily. When Martina's confidence wasn't so high the first thing to go usually was the serve and if that's not working then she's in trouble.

    Late in Martina's career she also developed a bad habit of letting balls go that she could have hit, instead hoping they would go out and they often did not. Maybe it was because she was a step slower or she was trying to conserve energy.
     
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  11. conway

    conway Banned

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    I mostly agree except that Graf would own Martina on rebound ace if that was around at the given time. It would be even more lopsided in Graf's favor than clay. Funny thing is rebound ace is probably Graf's worst surface too, but she would easily get the better of even prime Martina on it.
     
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