Why was Monica never that good on grass?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by navratilovafan, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. navratilovafan

    navratilovafan Banned

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    Obviosly Monica Seles while a great player never became a great player on grass where she clearly struggled. She only made 1 final where she was mauled by Graf, and no other semis. The rest of her career she made I think 4 other quarterfinals of Wimbledon where she lost to Davenport, a pre prime Henin, Zvereva, and Garrison . She has early round defeats to Testud, Studenikova, and Lucic, and a mysterious withdrawal during her prime as well. So what was it about Seles's game that made her a rather ineffective grass court player.
     
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  2. Corsair

    Corsair New User

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    Was that after she got stabbed by a crazy Graf fan?
     
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  3. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    She had restricted reach off both wings, inadequate pure foot speed, ineffective slice, vulnerable second serve, and poor volleyer for reasons. She kept having to dig out heavily sliced shots to impart her topspin ones. Her great passing shots and return required the ball to sit up a little more. she was vulnerable to the droop shot. She beat an older Navratilova because Martina's second serve had gotten so bad and Martina's foot speed had declined.

    Both Zvereva and Garrison had great volley games and Lindsey could overpower her.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2009
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  4. navratilovafan

    navratilovafan Banned

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    It really doesnt matter as at all points of her career she struggled on grass. In her absolute prime as a player she was embarassed by Graf in a one sided final, had a mysterious withdrawal, and lost to Garrison right after winning the French just before. Also she was completely destroying Studenikova and Testud on all surfaces except grass so there would be no reason for her to lose to them on grass other than her own issues with the surfaces.
     
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  5. cghipp

    cghipp Professional

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    I think it's simply that being two-handed on both sides and playing on an extremely fast surface is not a great combination.
     
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  6. egn

    egn Hall of Fame

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    Yea her style did not suit the surface.
     
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  7. navratilovafan

    navratilovafan Banned

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    I think you make some excellent points.
     
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  8. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    Navratilova said that grass favours the best athletes, and I think that Seles, while an extremely formidable player in her prime, was never the best pure athlete, another reason why she struggled on grass compared to the other surfaces which do not expose it as much.
     
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  9. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Legend

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    Seles had poor reach off of both wings, and on the Wimbledon grass as it was in the early 90's that was a huge problem, which coupled with her footspeed were a receipe for disaster. She did well on clay because she had more time to get to the ball and set up her shots, on hardcourts she could use her power and angles to win matches.

    On the older grass however her poor movement ment she couldn't set up her shots properly against players who could move like Graf could and she was often forced to scurry and hit awkward shots, which other players could eat up for winners or watch sail around as errors. Combine that with her poor ability to come to net to counter drop shots (she was always vulnerable to drops and was never spectacular at the net), and on grass she became quite vulnerable. While her pasing shots were good the older Wimbledon grass favored good footspeed and coming to net against Seles there was more effective than on other surfaces. On the grass of Wimbledon today, which is slower than it was during Seles prime, she might be able to do better.
     
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  10. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    Her limited reach took away her normally greatest ever return of serve and made it only somewhat ordinary on grass. One of her greatest weapons gone altogether on that surface. The slice serve out wide on grass especialy carried wider and away by the grass and with her limited reach to begin with she returned that serve poorly to anyone who executed it well, where on other surfaces she returned it destructively well like all other serves.
     
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  11. Tennis Dunce

    Tennis Dunce Semi-Pro

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    Also, the fact that she wasn't an athlete...not a bad athlete, but no athlete at all.

    Slippery grass rewards athleticism and grace...errr... two attributes the mighty Monica didn't possess.
     
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  12. AAAA

    AAAA Hall of Fame

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    In that final Seles wasn't her usual self, I don't think she even grunted like normal during the match.

    All through Wimbledon fortnight the press the media was making a real big deal of her grunting at a time in the women's game when most other women didn't grunt anywhere near as loudly as she did. As I remember the BBC commentators even had some Wimbledon official comment on the grunting on TV.

    All the negative publicity about her grunting appeared to make he too self-conscious and inhibited in the final. Here usual fire just was evident.
     
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  13. Lionheart392

    Lionheart392 Professional

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    As I've said before, it's easy to say that Monica not grunting cost her the Wimbledon title in 1992. But I strongly disagree. If you watch the match and watch how well Graf played, you'd see that no one was going to beat her, not even a roaring Seles. I don't think Graf gets the credit she deserves for how well she played that day. Seles had no chance of winning.
     
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  14. thalivest

    thalivest Banned

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    I think another form of comparision is the other year they played at both the French and Wimbledon. In 1989 Graf played 15 year old Seles at the French and still got taken to 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. She then played 15 year old Seles at Wimbledon and beat he 6-1, 6-0. So based upon that differential, Seles needing to go to 10-8 in the 3rd set to beat Graf in the 1992 French Open final means a 6-2, 6-1 loss in the Wimbledon final is about on par with what should have been expected. Not to mention Seles had a very hard time beating 35 year old Navratilova, now the 4th best player in the World and a good matchup for Seles style wise in the semis. On the other hand Graf had a very easy time beating peak Sabatini, now the 3rd best player in the World and a bad matchup for Graf style wise at the time in her semi. Nothing really points to anything other than Monica being destroyed, perhaps a bit more easily than expected though.
     
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  15. harr

    harr Rookie

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    Bartoli does best on faster surfaces. I know that my one example doesn't prove anything, but I think it suggests that the way you hit the two handed strokes is important. Bartoli's flat shots are more penetrating on fast courts than slow ones, while Seles' angles, etc. are most useful on a court where it's harder to hit winners.
     
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  16. thalivest

    thalivest Banned

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    Does Bartoli in general do better on fast surfaces or was it just her lone Wimbledon final which IMO was a huge fluke. I guess I dont follow her closely enough to really compare overall, I know that is her standout result so far which was probably the flukiest slam final appearance of the whole Open Era on he womens side. She did reach the quarters of the AO this year on slow hard courts, but reached the round of 16 of last years Open on fast hard courts.
     
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  17. CEvertFan

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    I wouldn't think that Seles would have beaten Graf that day but if she hadn't been so keen on NOT grunting she might have been able to muster a bit more resistance then the way it turned out. Monica was unusually subdued that day, like she was distracted, and on Graf's best surface that just made things all that much worse, hence the lop sided score.
     
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  18. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    I think Wimbledon was jinxed for Monica. A slew of for her horrible losses, basically 4 embarassing losses for a champion of her stature in a row from 1996-1999. She feels some like calls went against her in big moments late in some of her losses- Testud in 97, Garrison in 90, the whole debacle of her withdrawal in 91, the debacle of a whole different kind in 92.
     
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  19. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    I can't believe ( huge Graf fan), that I forgot the comparison of the two years and how similar they were in score. Good post.
     
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  20. rolandg

    rolandg Semi-Pro

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    I don't think the Americans on here realise just how much the British press ripped her to shreds in 92, which is a pretty horrible thing to do to an 18 year old.

    That said, she was ****e on grass. Don't know why.
     
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  21. harr

    harr Rookie

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    Looking at her third round and better slam performances*, she has a quarter final at the Australian, two R3s and a final at Wimbledon, three R3s and two R4s at the US, and a fourth round apperance at the French. I don't have detailed knowedge of surface speed, but I think that the US and Wimbledon -- the courts on which she has achieved her best and most consistent results -- are the fastest. If you want to discount her Wimbledon final (it may have been unexpected, but I don't see why it was a fluke), her Australian performance is arguably better, but then her Australian QF could also be a fluke.

    It might be better to look at her results in smaller tournaments instead, but I don't know enough about the surfaces.

    *By choice of round, you could probably get several different correlations out of the data. But third round gives a data set that is probably large enough to make up for flukes while being small enough to analyse. Plus, if you chose R2 the effect of lucky or unlucky draws will probably be greater.
     
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  22. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    Anyone who makes even one Wimbledon final isn't "****e on grass" as you put it. That said, the fast grass of the time was never going to be her best surface. She would do much better on today's Wimbledon grass, which is slower.
     
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  23. lambielspins

    lambielspins Banned

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    Yeah Bartoli made a Wimbledon final today and prime age Seles would spank Bartoli on any surface. Heck Seles today could probably beat Bartoli on any surface.
     
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  24. AAAA

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    That's what I was saying. Maybe it affected the result, maybe it didn't however it was an additional variable that was against her at the time.
     
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  25. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I note that for all the mentions of her limited reach, because of two hands on both sides, she was taller than Evert at 5'10 compared to 5'6 which should compensate for the lack of reach on one additional side. Her serve should have been more effective as well. Seles was capable of imparting slice on both sides as a change- up. I think Ever had a great advantage in that she played both the US national and Wimbledon on grass as well as the annual team competition between US and England ( the name has slipped away) in her early years. She got a lot of grass experience from 16-19 that Monica missed. Monica should have played more doubles early on like Evert did as well.

    Evert also focused on depth rather than either angle or pace as the primary goal when playing. That may have been to her benefit.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2009
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  26. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    She could certainly play well on grass at times, but for the reasons people have stated (athleticism, reach, etc.) she was never great on grass.

    I wouldn't say she was "bad" on grass, just okay.
     
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  27. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Legend

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    Playing 2 handed off both sides naturally impairs your reach no matter how tall you are. someone with a one handed backhand and forehand is going to have better reach than someone of equal height with two hands. Factor in Seles less than stellar footwork and the fact she wasn't the best athlete and yes that will all compound against her on faster grass.

    You make a good point about less grass experience though, Grass was by the time Seles came around much less frequent than the generations before her, to the point now where there is barely a month of grass for the women. More grass would have helped...but seeing as different grass...like different clay plays differently the improvement may have been at best...marginal. More grass could have helped...but maybe it would have made no difference at all. Evert on grass was so good because of her deadly passes, and her strong lobs and anticipation, things that she in her prime I would say she was better at that Monica was, but thats just my opinion, and at the time that was what she neededto win against a tour full of serve and volleyers.

    Evert focused on Depth because it was such a good strategy against serve and vollyers whom she could keep at bay with it more than with angles and pace. The baseline game that began to develop around Seles time required new strategy and thus she developed angle and pace...which against baseliners was better than depth in terms of winning points. Seles using depth the way Evert did on grass likely wouldn't have done much more as the field was not majority serve and volley when Seles was playing (with the exception of Martina early on and Novotna).

    Doubles though I think would have helped Monica. she was never comfortable at net and thus was always vulnerable to a well executed drop shot. Doubles play would have made her more comfortable at the net and not so tenative about going after being attacked with a drop. She was so awkward at net at times after going to counter a dropshot she would retreat and try to run back to baseline. Doubles would have helped her come to terms with that.
     
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  28. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    A persuasive rebuttal. I thought height had a direct relationship to arm length, but that was just an assumption.
     
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  29. gj011

    gj011 Banned

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    She was stabbed. That is why.
     
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  30. NadalandFedererfan

    NadalandFedererfan Banned

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    Yes that is why she was much weaker on grass at every point in her career- pre prime, prime, post stabbing, whatever, than any other surface. The stabbing explains why in 1996 she lost only 2 games to Studenikova in their 2 hard court matches and lost to her at Wimbledon. The stabbing explains why she was lost to Zvereva, Testud, and Lucic at Wimbledon but owned them everywhere else even in her post stabbing years. The stabbing explains why she won only 3 games from Graf in the 92 final at the peak of her dominance, and why she wimped out with some supposed injury (yeah right) in 91. The stabbing explains why she trounced Garrison on clay as a 15 year old in 89 but couldnt beat her on grass as a 16 year old in 1990. The stabbing explains how after taking Graf to 3 sets at the 89 French she took only 1 game off her at Wimbledon only weeks later. Good one.
     
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