the most complete woman player of the open era

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by kiki, Feb 1, 2014.

?

The most complete is?

Poll closed Mar 3, 2014.
  1. Court

    5 vote(s)
    7.6%
  2. Navratilova

    19 vote(s)
    28.8%
  3. Goolagong

    2 vote(s)
    3.0%
  4. Mandlikova

    1 vote(s)
    1.5%
  5. Graf

    25 vote(s)
    37.9%
  6. Davenport

    1 vote(s)
    1.5%
  7. Hingis

    6 vote(s)
    9.1%
  8. Williams

    7 vote(s)
    10.6%
  1. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    if we understand by complete a player that has vast resources either at the baseline or at the net, can play different tactics and can play proficient tennis on any of the 4 surfaces (Clay,Grass,Carpet and Hard), well, not many have reached that status.

    Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong in the 70´s.

    Hanna Mandlikova and Martina Navratilova in the 80´s

    Steffi Graf or Gabriela Sabatini and Martina Hingis in the 90´s ( although Graf was not a great volleyer)

    Maybe Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport from the 2000´s?

    Your guess is as good as mine.
     
    #1
  2. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I went with Martina. there is no shot or spin to any part of the court, she hasn't mastered and shown herself willing to employ in any given match or setting - excepting a two handed backhand. She sure has proven herself able to ensure this attribute, does not routinely negatively impact her results for large stretches of her career. all this variety is the spice of her matches, it does not replace the mashed potatoes, steak and veggies of percentage S/ V tennis. She won most of her points by hitting with more power, and accuracy a big first serve or a great approach shot, getting to the net quickly and executing a firm volley into an open court. but she had 'em all and used them all with imagination.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2014
    #2
  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Any of them could fit.I went with Hana because of that plus she had: the ability to creat shots that she even didn´t think about.
     
    #3
  4. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    Graf: great and good on all surfaces
     
    #4
  5. rayoflight110

    rayoflight110 Rookie

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    I'd add Henin to that list. The variety of her game, her mental toughness and of course her sublime backhand made her a formidable opponent. She is also widely regarded by many as the best player to watch.
     
    #5
  6. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    to me most complete also includes " very competent volleyer"....

    I´d like to know the age of those that have her as " best ever to watch"
     
    #6
  7. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Kiki, you don't remember her rep very well. Wiki may have some problems as a source but to capture something as general as style and rep among players, its good.

    At the 2007 French Open, Martina Navratilova said that "Henin's offense is just phenomenal ... it's sort of like we've got 'the female Federer', or maybe the guys have 'the male Justine Henin', because she is just head and shoulders above everyone else right now."[10] Henin's footwork, balance, and court coverage—and she is adept at changing from a defensive style to an aggressive one.[11] Compared to the rest of her game, Henin's serve was rather inconsistent.[12][13] Her tendency to take risks on her second serve could sometimes result in a high number of double faults.[14][15] Nonetheless, despite her relatively small size, Henin was capable of producing powerful first serves, her fastest one being clocked at 196 km/h (122 mph) at the 2005 Family Circle Cup.[16] Henin's single-handed backhand was the most powerful and accurate in the game. She could hit her backhand flat, with heavy topspin, or slice [underspin]. Her backhand could also be used to surprise her opponents with dropshots, breaking up the pattern of a groundstroke rally. Henin's forehand was generally regarded as her most dangerous weapon,[citation needed] and the stroke that she normally used to dictate the play of a match.
    A notable aspect of Henin's playing style was the completeness of her game - the variety and versatility she had. Her style has been compared to that of Roger Federer's many times and to 5 time Grand Slam winner Martina Hingis as well. 4-time Grand Slam winner Kim Clijsters commented "Growing up together, she's always been the more touchy player. She has good hands.....she has those quick hands."[17] Former world No. 1 Andy Roddick praised Henin & Martina Hingis' racket skills, saying “She has probably the best racket skills of any female player I’ve seen, maybe her [Hingis] and Justine.”[18] Hingis herself also similarly said "Players were better educated [during my career]. Now it's sheer power. You kind of miss the players like myself or Justine Henin." [19]
    Volleying Ability[edit]
    Henin had always been considered one of the better volleyers on tour, but soon established herself as one of the best in the modern era. 2 time US Open Champion Tracy Austin commented "At the net she's quite comfortable displaying excellent technique. She knows where to position herself – a contrast to many other players who get up to the net and look like a deer in headlights."[20] Renowned tennis coach Nick Bollettieri included Henin as one of the few female tennis players he regarded as being a successful volleyer and an adept serve & volleyer, alongside the likes of Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna.

    I think of her as very versatile and very complete, more so than several on your poll.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
    #7
  8. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Difficult choice for me. I think amongst the s&v players I will go with Court. Amongst the baseliners I will go with Hingis, though I am tempted by Davenport.

    I did not choose Goolagong or Mandlikova, both of whom I think were most complete stroke -wise, because I also considered mental toughness. I know this makes my pick of Court suspect, but she won a lot of big matches and championships.

    Why is the Bobby Riggs match coming to my mind to make me doubt my own pick?
     
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  9. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Having all the shots, without the discipline to know to employ or not employ them, is as often a detriment as a blessing. As Evert liked to say of Hana's game "too many choices every time she hit the ball" so you need to know when to pare all that variety down and stick with something simple and solid, and when to grab more tricks from the bag. Court was superb at that.

    King was a s/v version of Hingis, they could both implode a point with a cement truck full of awkward, but both got a little too cute for their own good occasionally.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
    #9
  10. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    A Bolletieri opinion on S&V is as good as the opinion of a Mc Donald´s cahsier on french cuisine.Sorry, but I don´t buy it.Same for Tracy Austin, the worse volleyer I can think of.
     
    #10
  11. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree, but fact is, in my humble opinion, that both Hana and Evonne just enjoyed playing the ball and they were not that much interesting in records or wins.Of course, that works against them when we look at career´s achievements ( and Goolagong had a lot more than Mandlikova).

    I would never call Margaret Court menthally weak, rather one of the menthal strongest ones.Nobody beats Evert the way she did at RG without a winning brain.Not to mention the slam pressure she had after Laver won it a year before.Yes, Bueno wasn´t there ( and Maria was by far the opponent she feared the most) but the pressure must have been equally enormous.
     
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  12. monfed

    monfed Guest

    Martina Hingis
     
    #12
  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Martina was the last " all round player" in the classical concept.Men included.
     
    #13
  14. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    This topic is rather tricky. See, while a player may be complete in the sense of having mastered all the shots and patterns, but if they employ them so rarely, that we can't get a solid sample of how frequently they are effective, and how well they withstand pressure, we cannot really deem them complete. if they employ all those shots and patterns but so frequently and without discipline or purpose so that the percentages drops, then they have not mastered when to hit them, which is part of any shot or pattern.

    While Graf may have a lob or lob volley buried in her arsenal, if we won't see it used often enough in the course of an entire tournament, to know if it is reliable, let alone reliable in pressure situations. That is my problem with Graf. She is so dependent on three or four shots to win most of her points, we don't get exposed to much else. Finding a couple of winning examples on you tube shows the shot is in the bag, but not if she has mastered it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
    #14
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I do agree.That is why I consider a complete player that with a mastership of all the shots in different situations.
     
    #15
  16. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    If you are talking about having all the shots in the game, it would be Justine Henin. Obviously, she was not as great as Graf or Navratilova, but she had more variety and could hit any shot from anywhere on court.
     
    #16
  17. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    How good was Graf as a volleyer?
     
    #17
  18. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    my impression was she was a pretty good, but not great volleyer. it wasn't instinctive by any means. She won a major doubles with Gabby early in her career and 10 other WTA titles, mostly with Sabatini or Rene Stubbs.. For the most part she was conservative about when she approached, so the point was mostly in the bag. She had that great slice which worked on the backhand wing,and of course we know what was on the other wing. I understand when she was a kid she s/ved some but outgrew it..
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
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  19. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Stefi lacked the feeling and never found herself comfortable at the net.Of course, she was hardly pressed there after hitting a monster Fh for the fourth time on the row, you would expect the ball coming almost dead.Or if that was the slice, she never stepped in so she was never in position to move forwards.Her sliced was a shot to induct her FH to take control of the next point.
     
    #19
  20. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Why isn't Seles on the poll?
     
    #20
  21. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Seles was a big hitter, but complete player?
     
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  22. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    You have to know that was Mustard's idea of a funny. Got tons of respect for the Seles game, but she was the most limited number 1 I know of.
     
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  23. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Well...remember Tracy Austin? compared to her, Seles was as gifted as Nastase¡¡¡
     
    #23
  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    But lets be fair to Austin.She had the best passing shots after Evert and Seles up to this day.And menthally and to some extent tactically, few can match her.
     
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  25. Willi62

    Willi62 Banned

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    A player who has won 7 Wimbledons, 6 FOs and 5 USOs is without a doubt the most complete woman player of the open era.

    Steffi!
     
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  26. Willi62

    Willi62 Banned

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    Mandlikova?

    Who at age 25-27 lost 14 of 14 sets against teenage Steffi Graf?

    Yeah, sure ...:shock:
     
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  27. Willi62

    Willi62 Banned

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    That's easy.
    The age group who are too young to have seen Steffi.
     
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  28. Willi62

    Willi62 Banned

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    Excellent.
    But she didn't have the right feeling for when to approach the net and when not.
    Plus her positioning was not good (usually one step too far away from the net).
     
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  29. Willi62

    Willi62 Banned

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    Making the semis or better in Wimbledon only once in her long career automatically disqualifies her.
     
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  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Graf was not as good as complete as Hana.Graf depended on that FH with a better than average serve for a woman of the 90´s and a better than averaged sliced BH .And footwork and mental strength.

    But not as complete.

    Hana lost all interest in Graf after she trashed her at 86 RG:lol:
     
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  31. Rosewall

    Rosewall Rookie

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    Gabriela Sabatini, Mary Jo Fernandez, and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. OK, seriously, it is Navratilova. Goolagong, King, and Serena deserve special mention.
     
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  32. BTURNER

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    I think you are misunderstanding what he means by complete. it is not a synonym for best player, or player with the best record, or most dominant or having the most complete record. It has to do with variety of shots and patterns employed and their effectiveness on all surfaces. Its drawn very narrowly, so that our conclusions will naturally draw our attention to specific candidates.

    LOL Its like the following question: "name an often red colored fruit, that comes from an apple tree", might lead people to conclude you want to talk about apples in the thread.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
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  33. Vensai

    Vensai Professional

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    I feel that Martina was a more complete player than Graf, though I might have to rematch some of their matches to be sure.
     
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  34. Willi62

    Willi62 Banned

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    So if a #100-ranked player has no particular strengths and therefore applies all the usual shots like volley, lob, drive, slice BH, topspin BH, insideout forehand, stop, goes to net quite often but not always, has to play defense a lot but not always, all this quite a nice mixture - she is more complete than someone like Graf who does EVERYTHING one class better except forehand and slice BH which she does TWO classes better?
    Graf is less complete because she doesn't show her variety???

    You cannot be serious.
     
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  35. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    yeah¡ we are evaluating the whole package played at insane levels.Graf was more consistent, not a better all round player than Court and Mandlikova, or than Navratilova.

    BTW, can´t believe Hana and Maggie together don´t even reach 10% at polls¡¡
     
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  36. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I think you are better off thinking of 'complete' in his meaning, as a style of play, that most baseliners, however good they may be, are hard-pressed to employ with enough frequency to offer us sufficient evidence - or they would not be baseliners.
     
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  37. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Wow, Martina is getting a lot of votes. While I do view her as a complete player, I never seriously considered her because of two deficiencies that always came to my mind when trying to figure out how to beat her.

    First is one that Martina herself mentioned towards the end of her career, the lack of a down the line forehand. If you notice, Martina rarely can pull off this shot without an angle to work with. It was largely due to the severity of her continental grip. She either has to be halfway between the sideline and the servers hash mark and then catch the ball late, almost behind her to steer the ball up the line which is really more of a reverse angle. One of her best shots was outside the doubles alley and whipping the ball with severe spin up the line (sort of) and back into the court. However, if a volleyer hit deep into Martina's forehand corner, the response was ALWAYS a crosscourt pass. Her grip allows her no other option. I noticed that the serve and volleyers noticed this and Evert did as well. Evert, King, and Mandlikova frequently would read the crosscourt pass and hit a drop volley to win the point, unless Martina could dip it and force the ball up.

    The second was the lob. Renee Richards had Martina chip lob more to back a netrusher off of the net and create an angle to pass with. Then, it seemed that Martina forgot to lob during the Estep years. When King got involved she lobbed more than ever. But by then she was past her prime and knew she had to think more. She developed a nice backhand lob with a slight topspin roll.
     
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  38. Vensai

    Vensai Professional

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    Not exactly what I'd call her either.
     
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  39. Willi62

    Willi62 Banned

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    Because this poll is about the most complete woman player of the open era.
     
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  40. reversef

    reversef Hall of Fame

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    I would have voted for Henin, but she's not on the list. I can't say for Court and Goolagong because I don't know them, but all the other ones are less complete than Henin for me. And why is Davenport even on the list?
     
    #40
  41. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Seles is from the open era.
     
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  42. poofytail

    poofytail Banned

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    I love Seles but complete is not the proper word for her. She was great at what she did and that made her a great and almost unbeatable player for awhile, but she was never the most complete game. Just like Graf is probably the best ever with an astonishingly incomplete game. Reliant on the best ever forehand, a pretty good first serve, great athleticsm (but not put to use with great defense of any sort), and that is pretty much it. The most complete technical game of the Graf-Seles era was probably someone like Novotna and Sabatini. Mentally tough was a whole other story. The most complete physical, technical, and mental player all together would be someone like Court, Navratilova, or Serena.

    Davenport!?!?! Is that some freaking joke. Other than the power (no other aspect really) of her groundstrokes and return of serving, and a very good but not incredible serve, that was it. She was one of the slowest top 30 players ever, let alone a multi slam champion, had a horrible mental game, no finesse, no variety, didnt volley well despite all her doubles success (which was mostly her combined serve and return of serve prowess). Give Davenport the groundstroking and returning power of say Conchita Martinez and she wouldnt even be a top 50 player, and that is most complete, LOL! Davenport was a great player, but another case of just being so extremely effecient at what she did well (which in her case was a more narrow scope than Seles, or even Graf).
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
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  43. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Graf is a more complete player than Seles, but neither are a good option for this topic.
     
    #43
  44. poofytail

    poofytail Banned

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    People like Mandilikova and Goolagong arent either as the mental aspect is part of the game, and both were very weak there.
     
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  45. Willi62

    Willi62 Banned

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    Graf is among the two greatest players ever on EVERY surface - clay, grass, HC and indoor carpet. No one comes close to this.

    Can a player be more complete?
    I'm surprised that her lead in this poll is so narrow.
     
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  46. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I agree. My vote went to Court.
     
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  47. Winners or Errors

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    How is it that Evert doesn't make the list?
     
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  48. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    The way I understood the poll is its about who has the most complete game. The way I judged these players was if you took away their strength (i.e. Evert and Graf - the baseline or Court and Navratilova - the net game) who would be the most solid doing what they aren't best at.

    While I think Evert is an underated volleyer, I think it would be asking too much for her to beat Martina or Steffi if she tried to approach the net as much or more as she played from the baseline. I do however think that she somewhat developed some good approach tactics that complimented her game.

    At least that's the way I judged it. If I'm wrong I'm sure kiki will correct me.
     
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  49. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, you´re right and I like the way you put it: taking the strengths and seeing if still able to dominate.
     
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  50. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I agree, I see Evert as a baseliner who was willing and capable of approach/ volley through most of her career, but as close to an all-court player as anyone can get, without following her serve in, in the last three years of her career. She did not like hanging around that backcourt, and wasn't nearly as sure of the result

    She wanted those points ended, and there was no player and no surface she would not readily, happily charge forward on. Very different mindset. It worked for her too. She became very close to a 'complete' player and help her stay in the higher level of play, long past when her baseline game alone would have. I think Stolle referred to her as playing more like an 'all-courter' style in 88 or 89 with more approaches than many of her opponents including Graf, Fernandez, and Sabatini for starters. I think that is accurate.

    But you can't really be a complete player, and never serve/volley, IMO. Its part of the minimum qualifications, and that she reserved for doubles matches.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
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