Alot of Graf-haters talk about the lack of depth when Graf played. I was looking back at an old tape today from the 96 French Open and was remined what great depth the womens game had then. So many solid contenders as seeds, a strong formidable group of about 25-30 women vying for the top 10-15 in the World, and alot of reliable names near the top, even ones that never went on to win a slam, very challenging and very capable. Here were the potential round of 16 matchups at the 96 French Open that Tracy Austin and Bill MacAtee previewed with only one round to go until those potential matchups: #1 Graf vs #12 Fernandez #5 Majoli vs #15 Paulus #3 Martinez vs #14 Coetzer #7 Date vs #9 Davenport #6 Huber vs #16 Hingis #12 Pierce vs #4 Sanchez Vicario #8 Schultz-McCarthy vs #10 Novotna #2 Seles vs #13 Maleeva 6 of these 8 round of 16 matchups are FABULOUS. Graf vs Fernandez is terrific, a rematch of the wonderful 93 final. Fernandez never won a slam but was a solid solid player who could never be overlooked, and was a constant between #4-#15 in the rankings throughout her career. Majoli vs Paulus is one of 2 duller ones, but Paulus had an upset over Conchita Martinez on clay that year, so was a threat to upset Majoli, Majoli was one of the possable threats to Graf and Seles for the title that year after her clay court season coming in, and her upset of Seles in Tokyo. A Graf -Majoli quarterfinal was a potentialy great quarterfinal too. Martinez vs Coetzer is an amazing round of 16 matchup. Martinez was a regular in top 3-4 in the world from 94-96, and Coetzer is the incredable retriever who made herself a threat in the top 15 for many years and was a nemisis of the great Steffi Graf. Date vs Davenport is a great round of 16 matchup, Date was the Japanese with unconvential very flat strokes who was a fixture in the top 10 for a few years in the mid-90s before early retirement, Davenport was already a dangerous and very powerful hitter who was ranked in the top 10 for several straight years already at this point. A potential Date vs Martinez quarterfinal is also great as the lower ranked Date had a winning head to head with Martinez. Schultz vs Novotna is a bit bland round of 16 since Schultz is not a clay courter but still she is the games biggest server, and Novotna its best net rusher and a great overall player with shaky mental resolve. The winner of that potentialy playing Seles is a very good matchup as both Novotna and Schultz give Seles trouble and tough matches regularly. Seles vs Maleeva is also a great matchup, Maleeva was a very hard hitting groundstroker who was in the top 10-15 in the mid-90s on the basis of her powerful groundies, return of serve, and good angled shots. A great slugging round of 16 encounter. The potential Huber vs Hingis is an interesting matchup that year with Huber being in the top 10 several years at that point, but threatening to be in the top 5 for the first time ever, and reaching the Aussie finals that year, and losing a tough year-end final to Graf 6 months prior to that. Hingis of course was on the rise and seeded for the first time ever at a grand slam. A potential Pierce vs Sanchez is a rematch of the 94 final that is a great round of 16 match, amazing penetration and force vs incredable retrieving and fighting spirit, what a potential matchup there. The winner of that vs the winner of Hingis-Huber is a great matchup either way. Any of those women vs Seles in the semis, or maybe Novotna in the semis, is a great potential semi too. So are you can see the depth and quality of womens tennis was great in 96, in fact better then today probably.