Originally Posted by NadalAgassi
Shriver had to be a darn good doubles player for her and Martina to be so dominant as I am sure she was the others teams target in virtually every match. Anytime there was a choice it was probably "hit to Pam", and she had to withstand that and still come up with the goods for them to win all those matches. I doubt anyone in their right mind ever went out there to pick on Martina. It is like a beach volleyball team, you are only as good as your 2nd best player. Walsh and May are so dominant and incredible since Walsh is the best player in history, May is clearly the #2 player on her own team yet might well be the #2 player in history as well, and is unstoppable herself so even playing her she always gets the job done (not saying Pam is #2 in history at anything including doubles of course, just using a similar analogy).
Comparing Sukova and Shriver in singles one interesting question I ask is who was a tougher opponent for the greats. Sukova lost 21 matches in a row to Steffi Graf, and her only win over Graf was when Graf was 14 years old. Shriver lost 17 in a row to Evert, and her first ever win was over a 32 year old Evert. Sukova scored her first win over Evert when Chris was 31. It seems Sukova's game was only effective against Navratilova, definitely never against Graf, and not much against Chris. Shriver was often helpless when facing a young Steffi Graf (meaning from 86 on, although Steffi started her ownage of Pam as early as summer 85), lost 2 Wimbledon semis where she barely won any games, yet did beat her in a big match at the WTA Championships and had match point on her in another encounter. So it seems she was someone Steffi could sometimes roll over with ease, but could also underestimate and find tricky if she wasnt careful. Like Helena, Pam could also be a tricky opponent for Martina at times, and upset her twice at the U.S Open, although overall had less success than Helena did.
I would say overall their success rates vs top players in singles were about on par, so while the perception seems to be Helena was more dangerous, I am not sure if this is true. Which one had the better record vs Hana Mandlikova btw? I imagine Helena was too young to have ever played Tracy Austin, atleast in a meanginful match, so no point of comparision there, Shriver fared quite awful vs Tracy, only finally scoring her only couple wins when Tracy was already going down and towards retirement with major health issues. I am pretty sure Shriver has a much better record vs Sabatini, who was a real hot prospect at the time Sukova and Shriver were both around their primes, moreso than the 1 slam winner she ended up being.
Also the rankings, which were an accurate representation of the games pecking order back then unlike todays mess, seem to favor Shriver in a HUGE way. She was year end #4 atleast 5 years in a row, and even year end #3 in 1986. Sukova was year end #5 in 1986, and that was her only year ever higher than year end #7. Shriver even ended half or more of the years from 1981-1987 ranked higher than Hana Mandlikova, so while I guess that proves perhaps it is dangerous to read too much into the year end rankings as proof of who the better player is (obviously Pam is not a better singles player than Hana even if she was quite often ranked higher) it does speak in a huge way to Pam's consistency over many years and throughout each year, which it seems Helena while capable of big runs often was not matching. Helena's one big edge is all those slam finals she made vs Pam making only 1 at 16.