The greatest women's forehand in history?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Jack & Coke, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    How would Steffi's flat, power, and deep forehands stand up to today's super power hitters and extreme heavy topspinners ?
     
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  2. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    She would have to alter her tactical play, but concerning power, the Graf forehand is a lethal weapon in any era. I think the Steffi Graf we would see today would be the Steffi Graf we saw against Venus Williams in the quarters of Wimbledon 1999. She had less time to run around, so she used her backhand very smart and her forehand did the killing, many times Venus couldn't control the ferocity of the shot.

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  3. kreative

    kreative Professional

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    i'd have to agree w/ Frauline (sp?) Forehand, just amazing to watch her hit that shot. always looked like she had late contact, but man, could she nail it. she did have to face seles (power) conchita martinez & sanchez vicario (tospinners), so i'd say it'd hold up well. it's just that the power hitters of today would attack her bh more like seles was doing in her prime...overpowering.
     
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  4. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    What amazes me is how she dominated with power on that shot (forehand) with a MAX 200G!

    I grew up with that home defense weapon, so I know it very well. :)

    I wonder how her forehand would look if she have today's more powerful and forgiving racquets (e.g. PDR, AG, O3, KFactors, etc.)
     
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  5. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    I have all the rackets she played with: The 2 dunlops, the blue and white Wilson, the blue Wilson, and the black Wilson she ended her career with, the latter is a great racket, but sometimes I remember how the Max 200G played, it was a great racket.

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  6. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    She uses this one now right?

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  7. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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  8. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Yeah, she uses this racquet to hold up her coffee table.
     
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  9. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    haha.. does she really use it?

    Or does she use another "player's frame" from HEAD (microgel radical?)
     
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  10. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    She endorses it, her husband switced to her clothing brand, and she switched to his racket brand. Don't think if her life depended on it, she would use this stick. She would take the Black Wilson 7.1 out of her bag.
     
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  11. Tennis_Bum

    Tennis_Bum Professional

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    She endorsed it because it "was designed" for female players. I got this from a pro shop owner. I held that racket; it's light like a feather. I don't think she could play with it without adding tons of weight to it. I did play with the Max 200G; it was much heavier.
     
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  12. BaseLineBash

    BaseLineBash Hall of Fame

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    I think Mary Pierce has the most powerful forhand.
     
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  13. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    I agree that the Pierce forehand was hit harder, but Steffi's forehand was almost just as powerful and far more effective and lethal. Pierce showed how to attack Graf and that was by attacking the forehand, not the backhand.
     
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  14. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    The best forehand in the women's game was Renee Richards for sure.

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    The stroke is hard to describe. It was very well disguised, with an unmistakeable power to it. All in all, it was a thick and long stroke package.
     
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  15. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    My gawd, look at the size of that racquet head! :D

    Would you rank Monica's up there?

    (even though she had that funky two-handed forehand)
     
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  16. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    I wouldn't, Monica's forehand was very good, but it was the side she was more vulnerable on, still it was a killershot. Her backhand was more fierce and really very powerful and accurate.

    Federer is like Graf concerning the position from where they hit, although he has better technique, she made a home made shot recognizable all over the tennisworld. Three different generations had difficulties with the shot.

    Just saw a match between Mauresmo and Graf in 1997, Graf used her forehand so beautifully in that match.
     
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  17. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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  18. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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  19. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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  20. lol @ storm!!
     
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  21. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    man, that's ain't right..
     
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  22. WhatItIs

    WhatItIs Rookie

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    Serena Williams is up there.
     
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  23. superstition

    superstition Hall of Fame

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    When asked to design the ultimate female player a number of years ago, Navratilova said this:

    Forehand: Graf
    Backhand: (I don't remember)
    Serve: S. Williams
    Volleys: Navratilova
    Mental: Evert

    I don't think Serena's serve is better than Martina's was in her prime, though, especially on grass. That lefty slice is better than a brute force serve, and Serena probably would fall apart if she had to play with wood or early graphite racquets. Male players had trouble returning Martina's serve in 2006 at the US Open - a 49 year old Martina on hard court.

    My list would probably be like this:

    Forehand: Graf (with S. Williams second)
    Backhand: Henin
    Volleys: Navratilova
    Serve: Navratilova (with S. Williams second)
    Focus: Evert, Wills Moody, Sanchez-Vicario, Navratilova
    Speed: Graf
    Point construction: Navratilova, Hingis, Henin
    Clay shot: Martinez (loopy topspin)
    Grass shot: Shriver (slice forehand)
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2007
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  24. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    You're right, perhaps it was more compact than I let on. But as she got into a good rhythm, it got longer.
     
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  25. Phil

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    I saw Martina N. play doubles a couple years ago at the Toray Pan Pacific WTA tournament and believe me, no man would have had a problem, in 2006, returning her serve. It was a dinky slice and although her opponents didn't crush it, they got it back and low at her feet and she did very poorly at following up on the volley. Maybe you were referring to the 2006 JUNIOR US Open?

    Serena wouldn't be able to hit so many sloppy, off balance forehand winners with a wood or graphite small-headed stick...you're right there...
     
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  26. superstition

    superstition Hall of Fame

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    I have two matches from the US Open (her last mixed title) on DVR. You can watch them on YouTube, too. Count how many serves her male opponents couldn't attack or even return in the quarterfinal and final.

    Her serve improved over the course of her doubles comeback. And, power/speed isn't what made the serve difficult to return. It was the spin and placement.

    Also, during her heydey her serve was considered scary by some female players. I was impressed by it when I saw her in 1999 at an exhibition and that was before she bulked up and started training again.
     
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  27. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    Going back to the topic. Steffi Graf will always be remembered because of that huge forehand. It was the shot that set the women's game in motion. Navratilova started the move with her fitness, Steffi started power and Monica introduced power off both wings.

    Some one mentioned Serena's forehand, only you and Serena believe she has a great forehand. Her forehand is the weaker wing, have you seen her at RG 2007, tentative stroke and bad footwork.
     
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  28. Morpheus

    Morpheus Professional

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    Is that the old Yamaha? The one I'm thinking of was nearly impossible to break--black steel with a yellow or orange plastic throat piece.
     
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  29. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Steffi's forehand is the indisputable all time best that I've seen in the women's game. It's probably the single best shot that I've seen as well. Since most people will agree on that, here are a few others I've seen that are worthy of note in the womens game:


    1970's

    Sue Barker - As her forehand went, so went the rest of her game
    Virginia Ruzici - Steffi was not the first to run around and off forehands
    Chris Evert - Chris' forehand was always overshadowed by her backhand
    Evonne Goolagong - Was so lovely, surely it couldn't hurt you - wrong
    Tracy Austin - Hard to beat in a dual of forehands

    1980's

    Hana Mandlikova - Voted best forehand in 1985, then Steffi hit her stride
    Martina Navratilova - Graphite helped her groundies. Don't serve her wide
    Andrea Jaeger - Could zing it when she felt like it
    Liz Smylie - She ran hot and cold with it
    Manuela Maleeva - Forehand crosscourt was her favorite to smack
    Claudia Khode Kilsch - Got a lot behind that big loop windup
    Helena Sukova - Got a lot of work on the ball when she could set up
    Gabriela Sabatini - Was always at her best when she flattened it out
    Nicole Provis - Might surprise some, but she had a good flat forehand


    1990 -1997

    Monica Seles - Forehand was lethal, backhand even better
    Jana Novotna - Gave her baseline game a little pop
    Jennifer Capriati - Like Seles, she hit everything big
    Mary Joe Fernandez - Learned to use it as a weapon later in career
    Mary Pierce - Was only really really good about 20% of the time, powerful
    Kumiko Date - Hard, flat, stayed low, was hard to read which way
    Conchita Martinez - She hit an ugly ball but could be powerful
    Iva Majoli - Had a nice forehand until she won the French
    Martina Hingis - I still like to watch Hingis' forehand
    Lindsey Davenport - Beautiful striker of the ball
    Venus Williams - Everything she did was big
    Mirjana Lucic - Deadly forehand, wished things had worked out for her
    Irina Spirlea - Big shot, big mouth
     
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  30. BaseLineBash

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  31. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    Didn't she lose it when she had her operation?
     
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  32. Borat72

    Borat72 Banned

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    I agree, I have played the MAX 200G as well.
    With today's racquets it far easier to generate power (while still keeping a minimum of control). Even second-rate WTA pros are able to do that now.
     
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  33. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    Wow great detailed breakdown of all the deadly forehands of the last 3 decades. I am surprised you did not include Serena Williams though, who won a U.S Open title in 1999.
     
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  34. Jonny S&V

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    No, at Arthur Ashe Kids Day last summer, I am 99% sure that she used a Flexpoint Prestige. And going along with suwanee4712, Goolagong's forehand was absolutely lethal when she hit it down the line. She used the traditional Aussie grip and she hit it with slice and sidespin so it spun away from her most likely on the run opponent.
     
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  35. old_school_tennis

    old_school_tennis New User

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    Graf's forehand has got to be the best of all time in the women's game. It was the bread and butter of a career that won so many titles and the "Golden Slam."
     
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  36. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    any of the women on tour today have a form similar to Steffi's?

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  37. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    Steffi Graf and John McEnroe--two worst influences on my game. Always hopping around, hitting the ball with their feet well off the ground.... It works for them, but not for the less talented. I'm trying to stay more grounded when hitting my shots, but old habits die hard.
     
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  38. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    Would be hard to find, cause her technique is not easy for players who are not that fast. The stroke itself isn't late, but her preparation is, thus the whip like effect. See how beautifully she moves when she hit it. Never seen before, never will see it again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSYVCuXxiAo
     
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  39. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    interesting how steffi keeps her right elbow fixed in a bent position pretty much throughout the forehand stroke..

    totally different from today's more common full extension, whippy, wristy, wrap-around-the-body-finish style..

    not better, not worse, just different style
     
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  40. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    When you think of Steffi Graf, which of the following do you associate her more with?

    Dunlop?

    or

    Wilson?
     
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  41. Vision84

    Vision84 Hall of Fame

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    After reading about Renée Richards' story I now understand how Serena Williams dominates so much.
     
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  42. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    I have to say the Wilson racket, because it changed her game a lot. She had to work very hard to generate power with the MAX. That's not the question you asked. I think The Max.
     
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  43. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    Which Wilson models did she play with?

    Was it the same racquet with different paintjobs? Or did she really play with a few different models?
     
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  44. Alexandros

    Alexandros Professional

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    Kim Clijsters, though she makes contact a bit further out. Similar in the air, high follow through though:

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  45. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    1994 slams(The Wilson classic lite, 7.0, blue and white, although Steffi played a bootleg version at the 94 AO)
    1995 - 1998 slams(The blue Wilson classic beam 7.5)
    1999 slam (The black Wilson, flat beam, 7.1. I own them all!!!
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  46. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    Do the Wilson racquets that she used (as shown above) play a lot different from her old skool MAX200G?

    I'm guessing they are more powerful with increased stiffness.

    If this is the case, it must have been an interesting transition for her as most pros tend to stick with the style of racquet that they grew up on.

    Did she ever use the PS85 in a match?
     
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  47. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    Oh Yes. I started out with the Dunlop MAX 200G. Once you discover the sweet spot it is a dynamite racket, but many of today's players (recreational) wouldn't be able to deal with it, because it is very difficult to handle. If you look at Graf's matches with the Dunlop you can see she uses more of her body to get the power on the forehand. Her serve was actually more leathal (IMO) with the MAX. The Wilson she started out with was a fine racket, medium light and you can get whip ilke strokes on the forehand with it. I least liked the blue one, the black one is the racket I play with now. Too bad you don't live here, you could borrow my MAX and see for yourself.
     
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  48. laschutz

    laschutz New User

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    its' of course very hard to compare eras, graf's forehand surely is the best of all time, if only for the reason that no stroke was so predominately huge in a champion's game and subsequent grand slame titles, someone mentioned pierce hitting her forehand harder than graf, maybe maybe not, but graf's forehand was never entirely flat, it was pierced with spin as well. also if you mention mary pierce what about capriati's huge forehand i would pit a slugfest against capriati over pierce's forehand anyday. capriati does have the head to head lead over pierce, of course that's for their entire game.

    tracy austin hit a hard forehand back in the day with wood rackets, but does hitting the forehand harder make it better? that's the question. what about towards the end of evert vs austin rivalry when evert with her subtle change on her forehand of pace, sidespin, etcetera could break down the mechanical forehand of austin (not to mentioned how b.j. king and goolagong would do the same thing on grass)

    what about maureen connolly's forehand?supposedly she hit the hardest forehand and backhand ever seen with a wood racket, harder than evert or austin, how would her forehand (and backhand) be in todays game with graphite, a change of stance when hitting the forehand and better conditioning and sport strength so necessarily today in the women's game. i agree also i wonder how serena and venus with their somewhat on and off again forehand would do if they had to use wooden rackets?!!
     
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  49. Jack & Coke

    Jack & Coke Professional

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    I grew up with the MAX200G also (I have two). I was mainly currious about the Wilsons she transitioned to, and how they felt compared to the MAX.

    Thanks :)
     
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  50. Warriorroger

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    They're much easier on the arm, I can tell you that.
     
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