Was Mandlikova basically a lesser Navratilova, but with Evert's basline craft?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by dangalak, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. BTURNER

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    All true, but lets not leave the wrong impression. Hana won exactly 4 tournaments on clay. She beat someone named Strachonová in Barcelona, and Sabina Simmonds in Milan both in 1978 for two of them in her first year as a pro. In '79 she won Kitzbuhel over Hanika. Not exactly matches or events of stature. She won RG two years later and then nothing. I mean nothing for the rest of her career.

    She got to 6 other finals on clay. She won precisely one set total in those 6 finals and that was to Martina. Hana retired vs Rucizi after loosing the first. She got blown completely off the court vs Evert in 2 finals, routined in one by Evert 3&3, blown off by Jaeger in another, and got her best score in 6 years in a final, loosing to Graf 3 & 4 in '87. She had serious problems clinching the deal on dirt in her prime. The list of her earlier rd losses is legion but I won't go there. As I said, She was capable of producing great clay court tennis, but she was far from a great clay courter. Your best wager was always that Hana would not win a clay title, or get within a set of it, no matter who else was in the draw, or how nondescript the venue.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
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  2. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    All true. And while Hana was playing I agreed with you, and interestingly enough with Hana who herself called clay her worst surface.

    But about 15 years ago I started collecting her matches and studying her career from a hindsight perspective. I don't know if that lends any credibility to my opinions or if it discredits them.

    I came to the conclusion that Hana wasn't particularly good on green clay. I can't think of any great victory that she had on that surface even though she did reach several finals. Green clay should've been a good surface for her as its faster than red clay and less heavy. But with Hana, nothing is that simple.

    I know that the red clay season of 1981 was the beginning of her back problems, specifically Berlin. It was cold, damp, and heavy there and she started experiencing pain. I think that's why she curtailed her red clay schedule. She only played Berlin twice more when the WTA asked her to. She did play the Italian a little more which was usually hot and sunny. Her record there is good losing twice to Chris, but once was in 3 sets.

    Obviously, her Paris record is what I base my opinion largely on. The inconsistent Hana was remarkably consistent there through 1986 suffering only one upset loss to Khode in the 85 QF. She has the wins over Chris and Steffi and the marvelous 3 set loss to Martina in 84.

    I think she should've played more on red clay especially in southetn Europe. Had the Spanish clay events been as big as they are today they would've been perfect. I don't think she would've dominated them but likely would've done well.

    I also believe had she beaten Chris in 83 that she would've won a second French title. Its more of a stretch to suggest she could've won the 84 French had she beaten Martina. But my point is she was quite good in Paris.
     
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  3. SoBad

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    One day she walked up to me and gave me a jar of loose tobacco. She said: "here - I want you to have this".
     
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  4. NadalAgassi

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    Who is the best clay courter out of this group-Mandilikova, Conchita Martinez, Sabatini, or Hingis:

    Hana- overall performances on regular clay circuit nothing on those others, yet is the only one with a French Open title, and by far the biggest wins at Roland Garros of those. Consistent and formidable performer at Roland Garros, only on rare occasion going down easily even to the best (eg- Evert in 86).

    Sabatini- master of regular clay circuit, Premier title, Tier 1 titles, Tier 2 titles, one after another in prime. Frequent wins over Steffi Graf on regular clay circuit. Yet at Roland Garros a bunch of semifinal defeats and no big victories, just some near misses and dramatic losses to the big names. Admirable efforts at the 87 French vs Graf and 92 French vs Seles but came up short on both occasions, and even had she won would not have been a lock to win in either final.

    Martinez- like Sabatini a master of the regular clay circuit, won Rome 4 years in a row. However unlike Sabatini her gravy period began rolling in after the Seles stabbing, and Graf cutting down her schedule and barely playing outside the slams due to her bad back. Also probably benefited from Sabatini's decline. At Roland Garros made only 1 final, years past her prime, which she then proceeded to lose in a winnable match vs Mary Pierce. Only big victory ever at RG was over an over the hill Sanchez Vicario at that 2000 French. Never beat Graf, Seles, Sabatini, even Pierce, or Sanchez in any other year, nor ever played Hingis, at the French. No wins over Graf or Seles on clay at all. I dont mean to give an unfair slant but you can tell Martinez isnt my choice I guess, lol! In fairness to her should mention eons past her prime in 2005 took the great Justine Henin, one of the 4 best clay courters of the last 40 years along with Evert, Graf, and Seles, to 3 sets in the 1st round.

    Hingis- Great success on overall clay circuit but a bit less than Sabatini and Martinez, but much more than Hana. At Roland Garros was a super consisetent performer for years, finals or semis every year from 97-2001, but failed to win a single title, despite no truly great clay courter in their prime these years, and no dominant force on the circuit. Was arguably the favorite to win all 5 and won none.
     
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  5. kiki

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    I think you have not recovered from the effects of that tobacco yet
     
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  6. suwanee4712

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    NadalAgassi, when you spell it out that way as an overall clay courter I would rank them : Sabatini, Martinez, Hingis, and Mandlikova.

    But if you asked me to rank them on their French Open records it would go like this : Mandlikova, Hingis, Sabatini, Martinez.

    If all of these players were in their prime and the top seeds at the French I would likely seed them Hingis, Mandlikova, Sabatini, and Martinez.

    If I had to rank Hana's records at each of the slams based on # of quality finishes and consistency it would go like this: US Open, French Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon

    Maybe this exercise is the best proof to support BTurner's suggestion that Hana was not a great clay courter but capable of great things on clay?

    Now if someone could make sense of Hana's Wimbledon record I would appreciate that.
     
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  7. NadalAgassi

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    Thanks for your answer. The way I see it would be:

    Martinez- has a very good clay court game. Doesnt have a champions mentality though or quite a champions game in general.

    Sabatini- Has a very good game and a great game for clay. Definitely the surface her game is best suited to, although when she became more a net rusher it became very well suited for faster courts too. Isnt super weak mentally but doesnt have the killer instinct to be totally clutch at the key moments. Maybe doesnt have the extra gear in her game to go to either.

    Mandlikova- Super talented player whose game can translate to clay even though it isnt really her surface.

    Hingis- the biggest mystery of Roland Garros history perhaps. Has both the game for clay, does have the champions mentality as all her time at #1 and all her big titles prove. Completely baffling she didnt win a French, still cant understand it. Probably should have won multiple. She seemed to be a chronic choker at Roland Garros.
     
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  8. bluetrain4

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    Kind of off topic, since I'm talking about Sabatini specifically, but I remember seeing some clips of her when she was very young and just staring to make her mark, and it was sort of mind boggling - excellent variety from the baseline - all sorts of different heights and spin, and some drives and slices mixed in. And, even though she didn't charge forward as much as she did later, she did come to net at times. A beautiful, well rounded, thoughtful game. And, I was struck by how much looser she was. You could literally see it. She seemed to get more and more uptight as she got older. Sabatini matches, like Mandlikova matches, are always fun to watch - and anything can happen. She really had some great matches in her prime with Navratilova, Graf, ASV, Seles, etc.
     
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  9. Gizo

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    I thought that Hingis was going to her get her RG title in 1998, when she was bidding to hold all 4 majors at the same time.

    When she reached the semis, her route to the title was facing Seles in the semis who she had a 5-0 record against (with 2 wins on clay), and ASV in the final who she had a 5-1 record against (with a crushing win at RG the previous year).

    Of course Seles's father had died of stomach cancer less than two weeks earlier so that was such tough time emotionally for her.

    However in that semi she hit her groundstrokes so deep and hard, keeping her pinned back with her power and angles.

    Hingis was prone to getting overpowed in a big RG match (Majoli had blown her off the court in the final the previous year).
     
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  10. SoBad

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    Why do you think that?
     
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  11. kiki

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    Avon and VSlims finals were non slam majors like WCT finals and Masters for men
     
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  12. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Great post and all is true, Hingis vs Mandlikova is the match I miss on any court
     
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  13. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I love Hingis' court sense, anticipation, and variety of game. The match up I want to see would be 1985 Chris vs. 1997 Hingis.
     
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  14. NadalAgassi

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    I actually think game wise Hingis would be a pretty bad matchup for Chris. However Chris was so much tougher mentally (I dont mean in court smarts where Hingis was every bit as good, but in nerve and toughness under pressure) which would make it a tough call who would win.
     
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  15. suwanee4712

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    NadalAgassi, I personally would rank Austin over Hana based on what I know. She was tough as nails and was able to beat Martina and nearly run Chris out of the game. Should Hana have beaten Tracy more often than she did? I believe so given Hana's ability to take leads over her. But Tracy was so mentally tough. And when she was #1 I respected her as such.

    However, I am convinced that had Tracy remained in the game she would've had to change a lot to stay in the top echalon with M and C. Physically, I don't know if she could've kept up with them. She might've been relegated to fighting Hana for third. With Steffi on the way Tracy would be in a tough position in terms of trying to get back to #1.
     
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  16. suwanee4712

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    It would've driven Chris nuts originally. But like with Tracy she would've risen to the occasion.

    When nuclear war destroys everything else, **** roaches and Chris Evert will survive! :)
     
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  17. NadalAgassi

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    Interesting. You could be right but 4 majors to only 2 is a big difference for me. I know I am thinking more in the context of todays game than the game back then though, events like the Avon and Toyota Championships were to many people bigger than the Australian or even the French for awhile. Tracy did get to #1 and Hana never got higher than #3 though, that is also a big difference.

    I often wondered if Tracy's decline in results in 1982 and 1983 was all her own physical decline or if it also was part that she was not being able to keep up with athletic progress in the game spurred by Navratilova and Mandilikova.

    I do think people exagerrate the career she would have had if she stayed healthy though. Personally I think the 79-81 patch would have probably been the part of her career. I do think she could have reached 5 or 6 major titles, but I dont know if she would have ever got back to #1 ever again, and I certainly dont think she would have ever dominated the game.
     
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  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    In any case, after the quator Court,Evert,King and Goolagong in the 70´s, the big 4 of Chris and Martina plus young stars like Hana and Tracy is a great one for the beginning of the 80´s.Just as much as the male´s Borg,mac,Lendl and Connors.2 european born players vs 2 americans.great mixture of styles too.
     
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  19. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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    Because she couldn't overpower her?
     
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  20. NadalAgassi

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    Some thought Hingis at her best was a better version of Evert. Evert herself said so many times on air.
     
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  21. BTURNER

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    They were decidedly wrong on so many levels beyond talent and skill. . Mostly about the girl's basic sense of discipline, and drive and character. Chris Evert had a will to be champion, almost unmatched in history. That is what it takes to stay 1,2, or 3 in the world and never let your ranking fall below, for 16 straight years despite half a dozen stronger or faster players.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
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  22. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Evert was more mature and well focused but Both had the soul of true champs
    Tecnichally both had not too good serves,all time great 2 HBH and unique cleverness and capability to read the match.Hingis was much better a volleyer
     
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  23. BTURNER

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    See I don't think Hingis had the soul of a champion, just the mind of one. I agree with the rest
     
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  24. kiki

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    I like the way you put it, but even if arrogant, Hingis was the fresh air tennis needed then and would need now.
     
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  25. slowfox

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    The closest we got these days is probably Radwanska.
     
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  26. PDJ

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    I'd consider myself reasonably young: that said I saw Goolagong-Cawley play in her final year as a schoolboy, mandlikova many times and have hit with bueno numerous times when she's in London. And altho her movement obviously isn't what it was, the way she hits the ball is beyond stunning. Breathtaking. I wd say that Goolagong was comparable & mandlikova a lesser, but talented, version of them both. :)
     
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  27. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I've seen so little of Bueno. There's no doubt she was a great player with a great record. But I've heard contrasting descriptions of her. Most describe her as a graceful shotmaker similar to Evonne and Hana. Others refer to her as a great athlete that could hit any shot but not as smooth as the others. Which would you say is more acurate?
     
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  28. gavna

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    Austin was a beast on court and at 100% would blow Martina and Evert off the court. Austin was actually tougher than Evert - it was her Sciatic Nerve injury that started to slow her down and really ended her career. Austin was a freaking kid when she started winning slams - can you imagine a 100% healthy Austin playing until she was 30+?????. As for Mandlikova she was a head case.....had ALL the shots, power, placement...etc etc etc but her brain was a wet noodle.....just like Henri Leconte on the mens side she had the most talent but at times could not put it together. It was like she had so many shots to choose from it would overwhelm her.
     
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  29. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Never forget while Leconte never won anything big, Mandlikova won 4 big events.

    Austin was very good but she lacked some versatility and I don´t think she had anything left after 1981...not at Chris,Martina and Hana´s level.But she would have made it very interesting for a few more years.
     
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  30. PDJ

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    I would say that she hits the ball incredibly smoothly. I've never seen her miss time the ball or hit an unattractive shot. That said, Maria has little margin for error as she hits so close to the top of the net & practically always down on the ball so her opponent, in this case hitting partner, has to dig the ball up- it's hard work. I can only say, hand on heart, that she plays as if set to classical music: truly beautiful.
     
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  31. NadalAgassi

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    When I watch tapes of Austin play I am amazed she achieved all she did so young, and had the great success vs prime Evert and Navratilova as she did. Sorry she just doesnt impress me much, even for the time frame. I even find Jaeger had a better game, but I guess she didnt have as strong a mind. I dont think she would have achieved all that much after 1981 even without her health problems. Her game was incredibly limited, what she excelled at she did very well but that was all she could do. Her serve was pitiful even for 70s standards, her volleys or attempts at them, lol, she had absolutely no variety, no real feel for the ball or any finesse shots, and her hitting patterns from the baseline were so unoriginal, the same crosscourt or down the line drills repeatedly. She makes Evert who some suggest is limited look like an incredibly complete player with so many dimensions by comparision. OK I admit I might be a bit biased since I really hate watching Tracy play in any of the old videos I saw, I find her game incredibly numbing and boring. I actually love her as a commentator today, way better than Evert or Navratilova IMO, I think I am a big fan of Tracy the person but not Tracy the tennis player, even though I acknowledge she was a great and unfortunate one.

    I guess she could have won a few hard court slams spread out over time and ended up with say 5 slams or something in that area had she stayed healthy, but she would have never had the serious challenge to being #1 like she did in 1980 and 1981 ever again IMO. Her game just didnt have much capacity for growth at all, and I think that was part of her decline in 1982 and 1983, it wasnt just her health problems, she couldnt keep up with the new athletic standard Navratilova was setting, Evert was trying to follow, and the improvements Mandlikova, Jaeger, Shriver, and others were making. Plus people figured out how to play her, her game was so simplistic in nature, it was only a matter of time that happened. I think Evert cracked the code on how to play Austin in that 1980 U.S Open upset over Tracy who was starting to be considered the dominant player at the time, and other players started to follow suit.
     
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  32. BTURNER

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    Actually according to Evert, Evonne Goolgong 'cracked the code' at Wimbledon a few months earlier, on her way to victory. I think it was a QF match that Evert watched. Evonne sliced and diced, looped and volleyed her way to victory. Never give Tracy the same look at the ball, you gave her the last stroke. Depth and spin is more important than pace. Its also the same tactic King used to beat Tracy at the Big W in her late thirties. Much harder to employ successfully on hard or indoor courts than on grass or clay. The odd bounce could be your new BFF vs Austin. her strokes were actually less compact than Evert's, far less versatile, but more steady and powerful. She hit a heavy ball that kept you well behind the baseline.
     
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  33. gavna

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    I never said that Riton ever won anything major BUT he had more talent in his little pinky than the rest of the top ten.......issue was he couldn't control it and again like any of the French has mush between the ears. Remember Tiriac was Very very vocal in the early 80s when he was coaching and after he dropped Riton that the guy was THE most talented player he had ever seen - Hana had similar talent and at times just looked like she couldn't decide what the hell she would do......it was like she had Too many shots to choose from and very often picked the wrong one. Thus with all that talent she ends up with ONLY 4 when she could have won twice that if not more.
     
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  34. gavna

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    You must not realize Austin was DONE by the end of 1982 due to her back and sciatica issues.....she had whole stretches in 81, 82 when she could almost not walk or bend over you cannot downplay how bad she was hurt. It's amazing she was able to last the 83 season - yes her game was a mirror of Everts but Austin hit the ball and flatter and when she was on could hit thru all of them when she was 100%.
    I was there live from the late 70s thru the 80s watching her on court and the YouTube garbage does not give her justice......She was out of tennis by the time she was 22 because of her back and leg.
     
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  35. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Agreed.on pure talent and ability Hana is one of the top five players of the open era
     
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  36. BTURNER

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    I'd say by mid 82 she had very few good matches left, but I tend to believe her. If she said she is healthy before she walked out on the court in interviews during a tournament, she was healthy when she lost on that court in that tournament. I am pretty dismissive of the retro-excuse by nature and philosophy. But to Tracy's credit, she really wasn't one to give them out.
     
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  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    The title of the thread is totally wrong.You cam say Hana was a lesser player or a lesser champ than Martina but never in life say she was a little copy of Navy...unless you never watched her, of course
     
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  38. treblings

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    OP was asking a question that could have simply been answered with a clear ´no´or ´wrong´
    or the way i answered it in post #2:)
    i often think that the title of any thread should change according to what´s talked about in the thread. totally misleading sometimes:)
     
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  39. PDJ

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    But wasn't the OP to invite discussion? I think if you changed the title as the thread changed, it seems to me, that the majority regarding women's tennis would end up being called 'Graf/Seles'. :)
     
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  40. treblings

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    of course it´s about discussion:) that´s the fun of it.
    all threads evolve and change topics or they die soon. if Joe Pike were still around, this thread would long ago have changed into a Graf appreciation thread:)
     
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  41. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    You're right but the starting question is imo wrong,that was what I meant
     
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  42. treblings

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    wrong in the sense, that the answer to his question was no?
     
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  43. kiki

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    Wrong in the concept that Mandlikova is a lesser Navratilova.Like she played like her just a bit worse...not true, each had their strokes and their personality on court and mandlikova didn´t learn to play the game by watching Navratilova.

    I can accept somebdoy saying martina was the better player or the most accomplished champion between the 2.But it makes no sense to say something like Hana was in the middle of Martina´s S&V game and Chris backcourt game.She was Hana Mandlikova for the good and for the bad.
     
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  44. treblings

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    i obviously agree with you and have said so as early as post #2
     
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  45. kiki

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    As I said before, Hana was a better volleyer than Chris and a better baseliner than Martina...or, in other words, Hana was a better baseliner than Martina was a better S&V and Hana was better at the net than Evert was better at the backcourt...
     
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  46. BTURNER

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    Kiki is right of course, for me its utterly astonishing to think Hana had Evert's baseline 'craft. Her baseline game could not be more different. It was intuitive, inspired and sometimes impulsive, but there was none of the clinical and tactical frame of mind Chris had. The strokes were different, the thought process was different, the goals during the rally were different. Polar opposites in every respect.
     
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  47. suwanee4712

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    Chris was a master chess player who thought 4 shots ahead in order to open up the court or wear the opponent down. You might be wrong footed or beaten with an angle. You also may suffer the death of a thousand cuts. No one was her equal at what she did.

    Hana's baseline game was largely centered on getting the opponent to reach or stretch so that she had to take her eye off of Hana. Most any baseline shot she hit might at the last moment be used to approach the net which might be good for Hana or be bad. It's all about what her instincts told her to do.

    I always thought Martina's ground game was about moving an opponent over to one side so that she could come forward and cut off the percentage angle.
     
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  48. NadalAgassi

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    I totally agree on your assessments on which each of those women tried to do with their baseline games. Graf's baseline game was all about opening up her forehand wing from towards the backside side of the court so she could start hitting inside out forehands, very unusual but what worked for her. I think Austin's baseline game was more simple, overpower or outlast an opponent with her shots.
     
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  49. kiki

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    While some think Evert game to be boring and predictable some of us love the way she played chess with a racket and what great craftmanship involved.The only other woman that played like that was Martina Hingis
    I supose we can name it "inteligence"
     
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  50. PDJ

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    I agree. Her court craft was exemplary. There have been been few to match her in this area. What I find particularly admirable is that she rarely seemed hurried. And yes Hingis was possibly the last of the top ranked players to use all the court. Personally I find most women's matches a slug fest bore, although the Italians can be a joy to watch, they normally get steamrollered at some point in a tournament. That said, I do like bartoli as she's such an original.
     

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