Originally Posted by suwanee4712
In Martina's 3 clay court wins I thought Martina really just played her off the court in the first two and took advantage of a bad Evert day in the third. Chris struck the ball well in the 84 French final. She began that match playing much better than she did the beginning of the 85 and 86 finals that she won. In the 87 French SF I don't think Chris was psyched up to play. Martina's start wasn't good yet Chris couldn't take advantage. After the first set Martina relaxed and cruised even when Chris started to hit the ball better.
I always agreed with Joanne Russell's take and Shriver's take on the difference between Martina's play in 84 and the two subsequent finals. In 84 Martina didn't play around. Once she got her nose in front she did what she did best by increasing the pressure. But Martina suffered from the same kind of cockiness that Boris showed on clay. They each felt they could win the French from the baseline like a true clay courter.
In 85 Martina didn't play well. Her serve was off and her approach shots were way off. Shriver said she was lucky that she wasn't playing a serve and volleyer that day or she would've lost even easier. And if you watch her SF vs. Kohde she played the same way and struggled vs. a player she always destroyed on clay. It had drama and it was a great break through for Chris. But I don't regard this as their best match in terms of quality. Neither did Mary Carillo.
I found 86 shocking. Chris had a horrid start and instead of pressuring Chris, Martina hung back in the second. She played like she thought she could beat the greatest clay courter ever on red clay from the back of the court. As Russell said, she grooved Chris' strokes for her. Once warmed up Martina could no longer attack. She got passed left and right. The last set and a half was an Evert clinic. But I still believe Martina could've/should've won that match in an hour.
You are on the money on '87
In '85 Evert was more confident with her one win a few months earlier, but not fully mentally recovered. She had two things going for her. Martina was actually a bit nervous in that first set and Evert's BFF was on court: WIND! Evert grew up in windy clay conditions and Martina could not gauge the wind nearly as well. It affected her serve, her volleys and overhead while Evert used it.
In '86 I think your equation is off. Martina did not change much whatever the commentator's said. She pretty much played great clay tennis all the way through very similar to '84. Evert brought her worst clay tennis in Set One, then worked toward her best clay tennis at 3-3 in the last two. As Martina replied after the match, when Bud started with his usual spiel which he said after every Evert Victory - "you can't come in on just anything on clay" Evert denied a lot of opportunities by hitting harder than she did in '84, standing further in and taking the net away countless times. I think if Martina had attacked more she would have been passed more. I think those last sets are a complete answer to anyone who wants to know what happens when the best s/ver in the world plays Evert on clay. Martina was very unlikely to win with a confident, grooved Evert no matter what tactics she employed. After Evert broke the spell with her Key Biscayne victory, they played 5 times on clay. Martina won once. '84 was the fluke, not the rest of the matches before and after.