why didn't novotna do better against graf?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by dominikk1985, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Of course graf was a far better player but theoretically she would be a good matchup for serve and volley players as she didn't really have a topspin BH. so the approach against her would be charging the net against her BH as a slice is not as effective as a passing shot.

    navratilova did that well accumulating a 9-9 record despite being past her prime against graf. martina also was basically the only top player who doesn't have a negative record against graf in a significant amount of matches.

    however novotna got really spanked by graf h2h. why is that?
     
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  2. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Novotna wasnt that good. Graf is possibly the female GOAT. One shouldnt have expected her to do better than she did vs Graf. Mandlikova is about twice the player Jana is and she barely did better vs Navratilova and Evert than Jana did vs Graf. Jana was only a real contender on grass and maybe to a lesser degre carpet. She was never remotedly a contender for big titles on hard courts and clay. Thus the only surfaces you should expect her to challenge Graf at all or grass and to a lesser degree carpet, and looking at their history she did do that. So in an era with a 1 month grass season, with only 1 event most players play, you shouldnt expect anymore from Jana than she managed. We can say Jana should have won the 93 Wimbledon final, but Jana shouldnt have ever beaten Graf at the 91 Australian on super slow and bouncy hard courts, that was the mother of all flukes (rebound age is probably Grafs worst surface too, but she is amazing on any surface, while it is Janas worst surface by a long ways, she is even much better on clay), so the overall H2H is probably still exactly as it should be.

    Even at Janas peak in 97-98 with literally a nothing field that was one of the worst in history, especialy in 97 and early 98, people didnt talk about the possability of Jana winning the Australian, French, and U.S Opens, despite that there was literally nobody but Hingis who could (other than possibly a couple others for the French only). At the 97 U.S Open there was literally no contenders besides Hingis, maybe a really fat and out of shape Seles, and a really fat and before her prime years Davenport, and that was it, and Jana despite being in her career best form and ranked number 2 much of the year and on her 2nd best slam surface after Graf, was laughed off by people as a possible winner as if it were a joke. Someone like Sabatini who gave Graf more trouble was a much better player than Jana Novotna, despite that both won only 1 slam, and also had the good fortune to have her 91-early 92 peak coincide with Grafs own slump, which greatly aided her overall H2H (Sabatini won only 4 of their 32 matches outside this good chance Sabatini peaking and Graf crashing 8 match swing). Someone like Martinez isnt much worse than Novotna and was hopeless vs Graf, granted a totally different playing style.

    As for referencing Navratilova they might have similar playing styles but Navratilova is in a different planet to Novotna in everyway essentialy. Navratilova even way past her prime and in her mid to late 30s was 7-1 vs a prime Novotna, and gave her a bagel and breadstick in their last ever match aged 37. The two women are on a different planet in ability. Furthermore they dont even play that similarily, Novotna is more of an all court player who stays back alot, while Navratilova is more a pure all out serve and volleyer and chip and charger who persistently attacks the net at each opportunity. A few players, Monica Seles being one, actually had more trouble with Janas more unpredictable playing style in that sense, but Graf is more bothered by someone who is in her face coming in at all moments and Jana did not do that, she bided her time and picked her spots.

    As for the Navratilova vs Graf matchup they played 10 of their 18 matches (aka more than half) during Navratilovas consensus prime from 82-87 (all from 85-87 mind you) and before Grafs consensus prime of 88-96, only 3 matches on slower courts, and Graf still tied 9-9, leads in slam finals 4-2, and trails in slams 4-5, so I would say Graf atleast held equal in that matchup. I actually think Navratilova was in her prime until 1989 which would make the H2H even worse from an analytical standpoint for Martina, but I know most that feel that way so I digress. The idea Navratilova was past her prime playing a prime Graf in all or even most of their matches is a myth. Alot of the myth comes from Martina playing until 1994 when she was in her late 30s, but she and Graf played only 4 matches the last 5 years of Navratilovas career. That and people forgetting that Navratilova was a late bloomer. Navratilova in 1987 and 1988 was the same age Serena was this year making fools of Sharapova and Azarenka, and something she is likely to continue doing until she retires, and already at that point a 17 or 18 year old Graf was beating her in various slam finals, beating her 6-3, 6-2 in Miami, beating her 6-2, 6-2 in Berlin on clay (actually that was in 86), beating her the last 2 sets of Wimbledon 6-2, 6-1, so doesnt sound like such a super tough matchup to me.

    I wouldnt say Navratilova did well vs Graf since she was a bad matchup, but since she is arguably the female GOAT and such a great player. There is no indication serve and volleyers were a bad matchup for Graf, atleast not ones with limited power and alot of finesse and variety like Novotna. Natalie Tauziat is probably the player on tour most similar to Novotna, she is a bit of a poor mans Novotna, and she is 0-20 vs Graf, and didnt even win a set. DeSwaardt despite being a much lesser player overall, and Navratilova, both have alot more power in their games, hence why they gave Graf more trouble than Jana could. McNeil is the one and only mystery in this as she also didnt have much power and while she was 2-11 vs Graf I believe, did surprisingly well and was surprisingly competitive still for a player of her generally low rank and stature in the game. McNeil when she was on though had a bit harder serve and forehand than Jana Novotna (note I did not say better overall, just harder) and a much harder serve and forehand than Natalie Tauziat.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2012
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  3. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Remember that Graf had a topspin backhand which she used to pass with and in rallies, early in her career. She let it drift away as s/ver's drifted off the tour. Even her slice was effective against incoming volleyers as it stayed low to the net and cut downwards. it was also very accurate, especially as a return down the line.

    Martina had two advantages over Novatna and Mandlikova, first with that lefty hook serve wide to Graf's backhand. It drove Evert and Austin crazy and did more than a little damage to Graf on Grass.t. She also had a lot more upper body strength, to handle all that heat and still keep the racket head directed, even if the shot was below the net. She had a bionic arm and wrist. They did not.

    Jana really had all the tools, but lacked the mental game to win points when it counted, and she wasn't much of a fighter when things weren't going well.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
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  4. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Exactly right. Neither Hana or Jana did anything that particularly bothered Steffi, nor were they equipped to handle her new age power for the most part.
     
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  5. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    Oh my, what a mouthful!

    But don't give me that *b.s.* Graf was amazing on any surface! She was most decidedly NOT! And how do I know? Well, my darling, you told me so. On so many occasions!!!

    Graf was just a no-talent, lucky dumb girl. She always played weak players, the weakest field of all-time, everyone she ever played was either post-, post-, post- prime, or newborns holding a racquet for the first time. So no wonder Graf won 22 majors in the Open Era, the most of any player, man or woman.

    Did I get it right, gurl?
     
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  6. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Just because I acknowledge Graf benefited from the Seles stabbing, and question her possible GOAT status because of that, does not mean I do not appreciate her talents and abilities.
     
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  7. matchmaker

    matchmaker Hall of Fame

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    In short, Novotna was technically not good enough and mentally even worse.
     
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  8. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Legend

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    Novotna had talent but mentally always went to pieces in big moments. She should have 2 or 3 majors right now and she only has 1....and she was on the verge of choking that one away several times during the match. Her self confidence was most times MIA or DOA. Even when she had leads she still never had a ton of faith.

    Add in the fact that Graf had much more variety, arguably more power, was a batter mover and mentally on another planet...its no surprise Jana did as bad as she di
     
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  9. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Ummm Graf had WAY more power than Jana Novotna, not arguably more power. I also disagree on variety, Jana had as much or more. When Hingis was #1, Jana was the only one compared to her in having variety.
     
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  10. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Oh my, that's quite a mouthful too.
     
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  11. christo

    christo Hall of Fame

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    BTW How the hell did Novotna get in the Hall of Fame?
    Next thing they'll be putting in the referee who did or did not take out hubby with a coffee cup.
     
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  12. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    ^^ she got in by having an extraordinary record that included 32 grand slam finals and 17 grand slam championships (1 in singles, 12 in doubles, 4 in mixed). The Hall of Fame isn't just for achievement in singles, though her one singles slam title compares with some other Hall members.
     
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  13. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    This will sound strange but I believe this to be true: Novotna's (not Graf's) lack of a topspin backhand stopped her from winning big matches. What's one of the most effective ways to beat an s&v player? Take the net away from them.

    Graf's net game wasn't great. But there are two players she charged the net an unusually high amount of times against ....Shriver and Novotna. They were the safest players to attack. Each dinked and lobbed quite well but neither could hit a flat or topspin backhand on a consistent basis. Me, you, and half this forum could attack Novotna's backhand with reasonable success.

    Many times, even at Wimbledon, when Graf got into trouble she served out wide to Novotna's backhand or she she waited for a short ball to approach to that side. Now once in a blue moon Jana might rip a successful flat backhand for a winner or force a volley error. But 9 times out of 10 she would slice a backhand down the line or dink a chip crosscourt. Sometimes she would chip a lob and charge the net behind it. But the smart players knew what to expect and made Jana pay.

    This is, of course, how why Martina beat Jana much more easily than she did Hana or Helena, both of whom had excellent topsoin backhands.
     
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  14. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    And, by the way, I loved Jana and her game. She was a hard worker who transformed herself into a fit athlete that, like Shriver, knew how to use her own strengths and exploit her opponents' weaknesses.

    But I truly was irritated when commentators like Nagelsen or Evert would compare her to Martina. Jana rarely saw Martina play until she was on the tour herself. Her game wasn't as aggressive or powerful as MN. She was more of a 90's version of Wendy Turnbull, a fast and shrewd player with excellent net instincts.
     
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  15. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    An interesting thing to wonder is who is really a better player, Novotna or Shriver. Breaking down their games:

    Serve- I would go with Shriver
    Forehand- Novotna by alot
    Backhand- Novotna by alot as well, even if both sucked passing off this side
    Movement- Novotna by alot
    Volleys- Err, not really sure, a toss up really
    Overhead- Shriver, Jana missed alot of smashes when she got nervous
    Intangibles- Shriver, stronger nerve, smarter player

    Shriver's poor ground game and movement was too easy to exploit for a really good player, she almost had to come in on the 2nd shot off each point as she was that hopeless from the baseline vs a tough oppopnent, so probably still Jana overall, but it is close, and their main strengths, Shriver is superior in most.
     
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  16. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    As usual, you are spot on. I do regard Jana as a smart player, but Pam's tennis brain and nerve is better. One of the smartest tactics that Shriver used so well was when she recognized a sliced approach coming towards her she would step in and volley the approach shot away before the netrusher could get into position. Very few players could do this well consistently. It's a tactic that would've helped Jana.

    I would give the edge on the volley to Jana. There would be no doubt on that if Jana's grip didn't prevent her from hitting a true down the line forehand volley.
     
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  17. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    As you can tell Dman sort of enjoys the play of Graf.
     
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  18. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Shriver loved to come in down the center of the court and deny angle, with her great reach and overhead, only the absolute best pass or lob worked. She also occasionally threw up a moonball and followed it in. Again she got enough time to get in good position no matter how far back she started, and with the high bounce, it could make things complicated for the passer. Just exceptionally clever, and always thinking of ways to use her more limited arsenal in new patterns to mix things up. She had a more solid volley than Jana, but Jana could make the glorious and touch volleys better.
     
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  19. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Don Candy did a tremendous job with Pam. He was well respected as a coach. Chris admitted once that when she was mired in her losing streak to Martina she sought out his advice. Players and coaches spent so much time together back in those days and some never minded asking for or giving advice. Probably wasn't a big deal back in those days.
     
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  20. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    It is ironic Don Candy would give advice to Pam`s biggest nemisis, who he couldnt help her to beat for 17 tries.
     
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  21. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    You can't blame Candy for her not being able to beat Chris Evert. Shriver just didn't have the firepower to approach the net that effectively against Evert and she had no chance in a baseline duel.
     
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  22. KneisslDestroyer

    KneisslDestroyer New User

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    What?

    I'd give my left nose hair to play as good as Jana, anyone contributing to this insane thread would get slammed by her in a match head to head, Jana had amazing timing and perhaps the best volley capabilities of any of the top serve and volley pro's...she was number two in the world and a hairs breath from number one at the end of one of her campaigns...do any of you realize how hard it is to become a professional tennis player...now were talking about one who won Wimbledon, was in a few slam finals and many semis, held the number one dubs ranking for quite some time...really people? Know your place before slagging a talent such as Jana.
     
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  23. KneisslDestroyer

    KneisslDestroyer New User

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    I recal screaming out loud for Jana to hit her backhand, she had the ability to do it but refused...I am a two hander and can slice one handed very effectively...I find I get stuck in a rut of slicing too much and get too comfy doing it...she was waaay too comfortable with that slice...I blame he coaching.
     
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  24. KneisslDestroyer

    KneisslDestroyer New User

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    Did you ever see Pam Shrivers last career point at Wimbledon? Her second serve went into the ground on her side of the net in her own service box...horrible.
     
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  25. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Had Jana been playing singles tennis at age 35 I hazard to guess it wouldnt be pretty either, but she was retired long before that point. Are you seriously judging Shriver's serving prowess vs Jana's by how she serving over a decade past her prime?
     
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