underrated player number 3: Johan Kriek

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by kiki, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Kriek was amazing, he just was too flashy, too unstable to reach number 1
    At the early 80 question was when, not if he' d become n 1
    One of the quickest and also strongest open era pros, terrific all rounder with tremendous groundies, return on BH, great s& v had it all
    Won 2 AO and reached Dallas final in his best yr 1980
    Several semis at all the majors and, again at Dallas
    I loved seeing him when hot but he was too streaky
    Any of you recall watching him?
    I forgot adding that he was such an athlete because played pro rugby in his own city, Durban
     
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  2. juan guzman

    juan guzman Rookie

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    He was in the semis at the French in 86 and that was pretty amazing.He beat Vilas who had reached a big final at Forest Hills earlier in the year in the quarters.Lendl routed him in the semis.
     
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  3. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Yes, kiki, I remember Johan Kriek. He was a flashy player, looked short, but was very quick, had good speed around the court, that was one of his biggest qualities. Pretty good serve and volley. He was at his best from 1980-82, I would say, won 2 Australian Opens when the very best players were absent. He beat Steve Denton in straight sets in both the 81 and 82 AO finals, no mean feat as Denton was a big threat on grass back then.
    JK reached the Wimbledon qf in 81 and 82, McEnroe beating him both times. I think Kriek had Borg 2 sets down in the sf of the US Open 1980 before BB came back to win in five, so Johan could play on all surfaces. I remember Kriek pulling off a shock over JMac in the Memphis f 82 and had other good wins too.
    It was the 81 Dallas final Kriek reached and Johnny Mac beat him easily that day.
    Sf at Roland Garros for Johan. That was a surprise for me.
    Solid top ten player for a few years.
     
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  4. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Xavier, Denton has one of the toughest serves ever but was basically known as doubles, he and Curren were probably the most brutal team I ever saw
     
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  5. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    i can remember the french open semi against Lendl. it was so cold, that both players reacted. Lendl wore long trousers and Kriek a tracksuit jacket for at least some portion of the match. i wondered at the time, if Kriek had made the right decision, cause he seemed to be hindered by the jacket more than anything else.
    curious what one remembers
     
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  6. Gonzalito17

    Gonzalito17 Hall of Fame

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    A very very enjoyable interview with Kriek...

    The Biofile Johan Kriek
    By Scoop Malinowski

    Status: Australian Open winner in 1981 and 1982.

    Ht: 5-9 Wt: 168

    DOB: April 5, 1958 In: Pongola, South Africa

    Early Tennis Memory: “I was invited to go watch the Australian Open when I was 12-years-old. And I had top row seats, way in the back, behind the steel beam. And I saw Connors play and Ashe and a whole bunch of guys. 1972. And I knew I was gonna be a pro. That was a tennis memory.”

    Tennis Inspirations: “I think that there was a lot of people that inspired me. Obviously, where I come from, there was one guy (Ziegried Trieger) that played locally at our club in the small town of Pongola, South Africa. There was maybe a couple hundred people in the town. And one of the guys – he was an English speaking guy (Ralph Peddy) – and I didn’t speak English, I speak Afrikans, my natural language. He would tell me, Rod Laver held the racquet like this. Ken Rosewall slices the backhand like this.”

    Greatest Sports Moment: “Two of them. Really, one was the first time I won the Australian Open (1981), because you work your whole life to win a big tournament, and to get to the finals – I didn’t sleep because it’s my first time in a Grand Slam. I didn’t want to mess it up. To win that one was huge. The second one in 1982 was unbelievable for me. Played the same guy – Steve Denton. And the one that equals that was winning the South African Open in ’84 (d. Dowdeswell of Zimbabwe 64 46 16 75 63), two years later, in front of my parents, family and everybody was there. Because my dad was in a wheelchair, he couldn’t travel to Wimbledon and all those places. That one, for me, was an extremely emotional event. Because I had a tough time in South Africa with the press and different things, and becoming an American. Traveling the world, South Africa was a pariah country back then, politcally. And it was a very tough situation for me to win the South African Open and the first Australian were two highlights of my life.”

    Most Painful Moment: “Oh there were lots. I think probably losing in the big tournaments. Like, I lost to McEnroe in Dallas. I lost to some big players. It was very painful leading Borg two sets-to-love in the 1980 U.S. Open semifinal – after I beat Wojtek (Fibak) in a five-set epic. Then I lost to Borg in five. I was upset two sets-to-love. And he came alive. Borg is Borg.”

    Favorite Tournament: “For me, obviously New York is crazy. It’s the biggest tournament in the world. It’s where my career really started. Because when they first moved to Flushing Meadows from Forest Hills, I qualified and made it to the quarterfinal and lost to Vitas Gerulaitis. This tournament, I was telling my wife, driving down the Merritt Parkway, going over the Whitestone Bridge, there’s a lot more traffic now than there used to be. For me it was like deja vu (to be back again this year) – I felt like I was re-tracking my steps when I would play the Open. I would think about who I was playing and drive my little Porsche. It’s crazy, it’s great, all in all it’s a wonderful tournament.”

    Funniest Players Encountered: “Oh my God, there’s so many – Vitas Gerulaitis is one of the funniest *******s I ever met. Eddie Dibbs. Absolute nuts. Nastase’s a nut. Yannick Noah was funny. Henri Leconte. There’s a lot of funny guys.”

    Toughest Competitors Encountered: “That’s tough. I can’t really single them out. Playing Borg and you just know this guy is just never gonna be ruffled mentally. Connors was tough, but I beat him a few times. McEnroe was always tough to play, whether you win or lose, you know you had to do some work. Lendl was just a beast, he was an animal physically. He was the Nadal of our time. The top guys were the toughest guys for me.”

    Strangest Match: “I have played some unbelievable matches at the U.S. Open. Borg. I lost to Agassi one year on Armstrong after I wanted to beat the pants off him. And I beat him the following year badly in Memphis. I had some tough matches on court that I won – Fibak. I had eight match points against me against Roscoe Tanner one year. And I beat him in five sets. That was a strange match. Funny enough, there was an article written about the no-name players that made a huge impact at the U.S. Open. The guy wrote an article – I wish – I think I still have it – but the guy wrote it in the Wall Street Journal, just as an editorial, on a match that left him completely drained of emotion – was me and Roscoe. He was telling how I was the fiery one, fighting hard and bleeding everywhere, diving for balls. And Roscoe had eight match points and lost. And it was really cool to see a guy write about it. And it was for me, one of the most emotional matches of my life, playing him. Because I should have never won but I won.”

    Embarrassing Tennis Memory: “I played agianst the guy Olivier Delaitre, he was a French guy. And I was coming back and he was really good – he had like the Henin backhand of the men’s, one-handed backhand. I played him in my comeback in ’91 or ’92 in Lyon, France. We played indoors, really cold, late in the year, November or something like that. And he has match point. The moment he served the first serve – I thought it was gonna go in – all the lights went out. Pitch black, nobody knew where the ball went. So we stopped. And all the emergency lights came on, dimly lit, it took like an hour-and-a-half to get the court re-booted and the lights came back on. And after an hour-and-a-half, he serves an ace. To win the match. That was my comeback. I had surgery on my elbow – I was already 34-years-old. But I played pretty well, got to the quarters there.”

    Last Book Read: “I read a lot of political stuff. March To Hell about America and radical Islam. It’s a scary book.”

    Favorite Movie: “Gladiator.”

    Favorite TV Show: “Modern Family.”

    Musical Tastes: “I’m a huge music nut – Andrea Bocelli to Pavarotti to Lady Gaga. Jazz, smooth jazz. I like all kinds.”

    First Job: “Farming with my dad, helping drive tractors and plowing. When you plow fields, it’s a wonderful feeling. You come home and nobody recognizes you because you have so much stuff on you.”

    First Car: “Chevrolet Camaro 1978 yellow [laughs].”

    Current Car: “Toyota Four-Runner. My wife has an Acura.”

    Best You Ever Felt On Court: “One of the best matches I ever played was against Wayne Ferreira in Capetown when he was a junior. My dad was there. This was in like 1991, he was just coming on Tour, was really good, they said he was gonna be top 10. I beat Wayne 7-5 in the third. My dad said, I’ve never seen a better tennis match in my life. You guys played flawless tennis. I had to. It was a small, $75,000 tournament. It was the best I ever felt in my life.”

    People Qualities Most Admired: “Straight-forward, up-front, honest. No BS. I’m kind of a straight-forward kind of guy. I like loyal people. I’m very loyal. I like loyalty in people.”




    http://www.tennis-prose.com/articles/classic-biofile-with-johan-kriek/
     
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  7. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I've seen him a number of times in people. You're right he was very streaky. He was one of the fastest players in tennis at the time. Good serve but didn't he double fault a lot? Not sure but I have a vague memory of that.

    I remember seeing him at sort of a pro-am at the Hamlet Cup out in Long Island, NY. He was playing doubles with one of the residents there against Yannick Noah and another resident. It was a very casual atmosphere there.
     
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  8. jean pierre

    jean pierre Semi-Pro

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    Kriek was a great player, on every surface : won AO on grass, SF in USO on hard court, SF in FO on clay ...
    I remember the match against Vilas. Vilas was a little old (34) but did a great come-back this year. Kriek played a great tennis to win, but I think Vilas was a little tired because before he had two matches very hard, against Gunnarsson and Forget (8/6 in the fifth set). But Kriek served and volleyed perfectly. In SF, he was injured and played a no-match against Lendl.
     
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  9. dje31

    dje31 Semi-Pro

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    He used to be a favorite of mine. Super fast, short, with big legs...sort of a proto-Chang.

    Great 1HBH. Lost a lot of points and matches due to UEs off the FH and DFs. A bit of a temper. Tended to tank when he got behind, or wanted a better draw in a round robin.

    Also, one of the ambassadors of the beloved but sadly long gone from the tennis scene, Rossignol.
     
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  10. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    He wasnt that tall but did an incredible job of both overheads and getting back to run down successful lobs.
     
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  11. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    I know I sound like a broken record (I say what I'm about to say on a lot of overrated/underrated threads), but what exactly is our starting point? How do you suspect Kriek is supposed to be "rated", and how would that rating manifest itself today (do you expect him to be mentioned more by commentators, do you expect more young players to know who he is, do you expect more discussions of him on TW), and how and why is is rating under what it should be?

    Overrated/underrated usually boils down to the OP perceiving that people don't think of a player as highly or lowly as he does. So, I'm always curious to know what exactly the evidence or criteria is to conclude that someone is overrated or underrated.
     
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  12. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, and they probably exchanged 'words' with McEnroe and Fleming on a few occasions too. :)
     
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  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Deserves more talking here
     
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  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Remember when Curren gunned Denton down with a bombastic serve?
     
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  15. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    Kriek was one of the fastest players on tour back then ........easy top 3 with Borg and Vitas.

    Had a somewhat "slappy" forehand and as said before had issues with his 2nd serve and had a high double fault average.

    Since moving from the Naples area to the Carolina's he has a very successful Jr Academy.
     
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  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    In 1979 the list of succesors to Borg´s throne read Mc Enroe, Lendl and Kriek.Of course Borg was still king of town but those 3 guys were the emerging forces.

    Kriek was a member of the Rossignol team, who sponsored a group of very interesting young pros: kriek, Clerc,Gomez and Buhening, who was the only one ho never made it to the top ten.
     
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  17. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    kiki, Did you know that Kriek played a few years in Austria (I think for Austrian "Bundesliga" but not for A. in Davis Cup)? He was known then as a "difficult" character.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2014
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  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Bobby Kriek was as volatile as mercure
     
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  19. Russeljones

    Russeljones G.O.A.T.

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    Thank you for that. Great read.
     
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  20. fezer

    fezer New User

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    i dont know, if Kriek is underrated, but he certainly underachieved. in the interviewe above he tells all about the great and epic matches. and from what i hear and read he must have played high quality tennis. but the only match i remember was the rgsf86. nobody seemed to know how this guy reached the last four. kriek played terribly and he lost to lendl 261606. the commentator on german tv that day told the story, kriek only showed up in paris to go out shopping with his girlfriend... so his semifinal earnings gave them some extra money to spend, but the crowd was very disappointed by the match. of course, lendl was ultratough in 86, but kriek only had 1 (maybe2) competitive set in 10 matches vs ivan. i dont think he's underrated. nice touch, some good volleying, good movement, but never the spirit of a great champion. i clearly think his 'multiple-slam-winner'-status is overrated!
     
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  21. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    in this case i disagree with kiki. i don´t think Kriek was ever considered no.1 material. for the reasons given in this thread mostly
    i liked watching him though
     
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  22. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Treblings, that really happened by 1979 or 1980.I agree with you that he never fulfilled his promises but, for a couple of years he was clearly one of the three guys that had a reasonable argument to replace Borg at the top of the male´s game.
     
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  23. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    I take your word for it:) i never thought of him as potential no.1at the time
     
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  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    TBH,neither did I.It was obvious in 1980 or even 1979 that Mc Enroe was to dethrone Borg in the near future and Lendl would come next.Those were the two names everybody had in mind.But some tennis experts and journalists included Kriek often as a " third man".
     
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  25. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Only two men younger than Borg have been able to beat him in five sets; Mc Enroe and Lendl ( in fact, no older player has since 1975 as well).Johan was very close to be the third man to make such an achievement when he led the swede two sets to nil at the Flushing Meadows semifinals in 1980...but he ended up losing the fifth set.
     
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  26. jean pierre

    jean pierre Semi-Pro

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    In 1981 in AO, he beated Chris Lewis (Wimbledon finalist), Edmondson (AO winner and Wimbledon semi finalist), Tim Mayotte (great grass player) and Denton. It was a difficult draw and a great Grand Slam victory for Kriek.
     
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  27. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    treblings, I tend rather to your point of view.
     
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  28. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    Kiki agrees,if you read bis above post:)
     
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  29. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree Jean Pierre.It often gets overlooked but it was a tough draw to get through, on grass.

    Kriek also played the USO sf and FO Sf, the WCT F and SF, twice the Masters, the USO and the Wimbledon QF; one of the best 8 resumees of the 80´s. And he played another AO sf which he lost to Wilander.
     
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