Did Steffi Graf have the best slice ever?

Did Steffi Graf have the best slice ever?

  • Yes

    Votes: 27 62.8%
  • No

    Votes: 16 37.2%

  • Total voters
    43

vive le beau jeu !

Talk Tennis Guru
I am afraid to say, but, calling Graf's elegant movement and strokes "ugly" has to be a new low even in the ranks of the Djoko*****.

:cool:
I find it ugly. And as I said before, if you can't accept a different view on something as trivial as some tennis player's game, calling it "low" and calling me names, that's really not my problem.
i'll take the risk to be burned at the stake with you here... ;)

not denying the efficiency of her strokes but i also never understood the praise for her supposed grace: her game looked absolutely unsmooth/unfluid compared to feline-like players like federer, edberg or even sampras (for instance).
her forehand may be a lethal weapon but it looked disgraciously 'stiff' and her backhand was an awkward monstruosity :oops: (the jerky movements of ponytail didn't help!) :laughing:

... maybe it's because people enjoyed her legs? :unsure:
(or... her nose? ok that was mean... i take it back) :giggle:
 

ForumMember

Hall of Fame
Yeah, I heard the same, but only from nostalgiatards here in this very forum :-D
I love the use of that word. But what a pain those ppl are. If you believe them you would feel that instead of evolution, devolution of human race is happening.
 

Tennis_Hands

Bionic Poster
i'll take the risk to be burned at the stake with you here... ;)

not denying the efficiency of her strokes but i also never understood the praise for her supposed grace: her game looked absolutely unsmooth/unfluid compared to feline-like players like federer, edberg or even sampras (for instance).
her forehand may be a lethal weapon but it looked disgraciously 'stiff' and her backhand was an awkward monstruosity :oops: (the jerky movements of ponytail didn't help!) :laughing:

... maybe it's because people enjoyed her legs? :unsure:
(or... her nose? ok that was mean... i take it back) :giggle:
Her movement was as smooth as it gets, hence she was always where she needed to be for her strokes without even noticing an effort. Her small steps dance was nothing short of gracious and the fact that they were so efficient only added to the overall impression. You are probably referring to her closer to the body contact when you speak of "stiff", but the power of her strokes had to come from somewhere :) Her backhand slice was a poetry in all its variations, and again, to make it the weapon that it was, she had to attack the ball aggressively (form follows function). Overall she was a very aesthetically pleasing package. Certainly, she wasn't Goolagong, but overall her game was very nice.

:cool:
 
There are plenty of really crappy players contending for slams in women's tennis today :)
Graf would be far better than them, so would still be bagging slams.
And of course she'd destroy the current version of Serena.
Graf had power, finesse and athleticism, the complete package.
Today's women lack finesse, also a lot of them aren't as athletic as Graf.
Also don't forget tennis IQ.
Her biggest strength was that she was a robot programmed to play every point efficiently. A cyborg.

She is overrated. An overrated cyborg.

Of course, nobody even remembers Seles who started to pretty much dominate her, then was STABBED by Steffi's fan - who never even went to prison for this crime - which extended Graf's records and bloated her reputation. Seles was the new breed of player and she controlled Graf. Yet you believe Graf would have a chance with her stupid BH slice vs these current girls/women?
 

Doctor/Lawyer Red Devil

Talk Tennis Guru
Ah, the old "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" adage. It reminds me of the opinions around here of spring chickens that haven't watched any tennis for any considerable amount of time, proclaiming "GOAT"s and condemning styles from the same point of view. You see, I am not challenging your right to have an absurd opinion. I am saying that your opinion is absurd.

:cool:
My opinion that Graf's game is ugly is "absurd"? Your eye is the universal judgement of beauty?

You are so pathetic it's beyond belief.
 

mistik

Hall of Fame
Her slice is amazing but not the biggest fan her approach to the game after 89.Best ever graf was 88 89 when her top spin backhand was rock solid as well.
 

Tennis_Hands

Bionic Poster
My opinion that Graf's game is ugly is "absurd"? Your eye is the universal judgement of beauty?

You are so pathetic it's beyond belief.
Putting aside what you can't appreciate in Graf's game, a person that is a fan of Djokovic's game lecturing others on the aesthetic value of other players' games has to be the height of hilarity.



:D
 
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thrust

Hall of Fame
She actually was 3-2 vs peak Seles in 91-early 93, which had a 6-2, 6-1 blowout win at Wimbledon, an easy straight sets win in the U.S Womens Hard Court final of 91, a 3 set win on clay in Hamburg. Seles's 2 wins were 3 setters, one of them 10-8 in the 3rd in the 92 Roland Garros final. And this was a mediocre Graf who was having awful years by her standards and lost 7 of 8 matches to Sabatini at one point. So it seems she did ok vs peak Seles too, LOL!

If she had a real topspin backhand which she used regularly she would probably win 9 out of 10 matches vs everyone atleast, and win atleast 3 slams every year of her career from 86-99. Which would give her a minimum 45 slams or something crazy like that today. Seles atleast would never be stabbed now, as there would be no point.
Before the stabbing, Seles won 3 of the 4 slam finals they played. A win is a win whether it is in 2 or 3 sets. It seems every time Steffi lost there is an excuse. The tragedy of the stabbing is that Seles was not the same player when she returned and we were deprived of a great long term rivalry, similar to Evert-Navratilova. Most of Steffi's slam wins were against tier two players or old Navratilova.
 

Doctor/Lawyer Red Devil

Talk Tennis Guru
Putting aside what you can't appreciate in Graf's game, a person that is a fan of Djokovic's game lecturing others on the aesthetic value of other players' games has to be the height of hilarity.

:cool:
I appreciate her game in the sense that it is among the best ever. But I don't like it.

Lecturing? I was just expressing my thought. You are the one who wanted to lecture me on aesthetics like the most insecure person in the world. It's not my problem you desperately need to argue on every subject instead of minding your business every once in a while.
 

Tennis_Hands

Bionic Poster
I appreciate her game in the sense that it is among the best ever. But I don't like it.

Lecturing? I was just expressing my thought. You are the one who wanted to lecture me on aesthetics like the most insecure person in the world. It's not my problem you desperately need to argue on every subject instead of minding your business every once in a while.
You said that it is "ugly", dear. That is a bit more than "don't like it" and a little bit more than a little bit "expressing your thought" when you say that a person with "functioning eyes" will see the same.

The reality is that you were indeed "lecturing" and the fact that you picked precisely her backhand (which is anything but "ugly") and probably one of the most pleasing aspects of her game just helped me drive my point home much faster without much ado.

The knee jerk in the end of your post was sweet.

:cool:
 
Before the stabbing, Seles won 3 of the 4 slam finals they played. A win is a win whether it is in 2 or 3 sets. It seems every time Steffi lost there is an excuse. The tragedy of the stabbing is that Seles was not the same player when she returned and we were deprived of a great long term rivalry, similar to Evert-Navratilova. Most of Steffi's slam wins were against tier two players or old Navratilova.
After that AO 93 derailment, Graf was losing a bunch to Seles. Takes a lot of bias to deny that. She was visibly distraught, her game falling apart in sets 2 and 3, especially the third, in the Melbourne sun. And it boils down to what somebody else said. Seems was so much smarter tactically. Graf played like a robot and when the robot didn't function as programmed, it was mayday.
 
i'll take the risk to be burned at the stake with you here... ;)

not denying the efficiency of her strokes but i also never understood the praise for her supposed grace: her game looked absolutely unsmooth/unfluid compared to feline-like players like federer, edberg or even sampras (for instance).
her forehand may be a lethal weapon but it looked disgraciously 'stiff' and her backhand was an awkward monstruosity :oops: (the jerky movements of ponytail didn't help!) :laughing:

... maybe it's because people enjoyed her legs? :unsure:
(or... her nose? ok that was mean... i take it back) :giggle:
I think that unsmoothness was essentially due to her very drastic and almost jerky RHS acceleration. Remember she played with a later contact point (like Sampras) but instead of carving the ball, whacked it with a whipping motion more like modern players. I do think she looks graceful in slomo and not just because of her legs, though that helps some. The interesting thing was even her slice was vigorous, lol.
 

Doctor/Lawyer Red Devil

Talk Tennis Guru
You said that it is "ugly", dear. That is a bit more than "don't like it" and a little bit more than a little bit "expressing your thought" when you say that a person with "functioning eyes" will see the same.

The reality is that you were indeed "lecturing" and the fact that you picked precisely her backhand (which is anything but "ugly") and probably one of the most pleasing aspects of her game just helped me drive my point home much faster without much ado.

The knee jerk in the end of your post was sweet.

:cool:
LOL your need for analyzing each part of other people's posts is so sad... I don't like it. I find it ugly. So straightforward, nothing inconsistent or confusing. The other clown assumed I never played tennis because I called that stroke ugly, when all I need is a pair of functioning eyes to make a judgement regarding the beauty of her game. Now it happens to be claiming the slice is ugly, but it's about making a judgement, whatever it is.

I "picked" her backhand slice (which I think is ugly) because the thread was focused on that part of her, Sherlock. If you find it pleasing yourself, fine by me, because I won't be that guy telling people they are reaching a new low and being absurd for preferring different things than me. I am not that full of myself.

Cheers man. You should try being sweet sometimes too. Maybe people will like you then.
 

Tennis_Hands

Bionic Poster
I think that unsmoothness was essentially due to her very drastic and almost jerky RHS acceleration. Remember she played with a later contact point (like Sampras) but instead of carving the ball, whacked it with a whipping motion more like modern players. I do think she looks graceful in slomo and not just because of her legs, though that helps some. The interesting thing was even her slice was vigorous, lol.
Exactly.

:cool:
 

Tennis_Hands

Bionic Poster
LOL your need for analyzing each part of other people's posts is so sad... I don't like it. I find it ugly. So straightforward, nothing inconsistent or confusing. The other clown assumed I never played tennis because I called that stroke ugly, when all I need is a pair of functioning eyes to make a judgement regarding the beauty of her game. Now it happens to be claiming the slice is ugly, but it's about making a judgement, whatever it is.

I "picked" her backhand slice (which I think is ugly) because the thread was focused on that part of her, Sherlock. If you find it pleasing yourself, fine by me, because I won't be that guy telling people they are reaching a new low and being absurd for preferring different things than me. I am not that full of myself.

Cheers man. You should try being sweet sometimes too. Maybe people will like you then.
The hilarity continues: not only you didn't retreat from your previous statement, but now you are confirming your comment, except, you made the rather unflattering thing by twisting your own words as to appear that the "functioning eyes" comment was related only to your opinion, when you clearly said "But all I need to call her slice (and her entire game) ugly is a pair of functioning eyes". None of us is a native speaker, but let me tell you, that if you thought that that means anything different than "anyone who has properly functioning eyes will see exactly the same as I did" you are very sadly mistaken.

Also, LOL at the logic in the statement "I called her slice ugly because the thread was focused on that part of her (game)". Let me tell you something , Holmes, even if her game was ugly, her slice could have still been an exception, so calling it ugly just because you wanted to say that her game was ugly is hilarious to the extreme. It happens so that after her movement, her slice happens to be one of the most pleasing parts of her game and is indeed beautiful in its execution and variety.

You are already full of yourself by commenting on what people should be seeing, if their eyes are functioning, so it is a little late to take up the high road, as it would appear that you want to do. It makes it even more amusing to me.

:cool:
 
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Doctor/Lawyer Red Devil

Talk Tennis Guru
The hilarity continues: not only you didn't retreat from your previous statement, but now you are confirming your comment, except, you made the rather unflattering thing by twisting your own words as to appear that the "functioning eyes" comment was related only to your opinion, when you clearly said "But all I need to call her slice (and her entire game) ugly is a pair of functioning eyes". None of us is a native speaker, but let me tell you, that if you thought that that means anything different than "anyone who has properly functioning eyes will see exactly the same as I did" you are very sadly mistaken.

Also, LOL at the logic in the statement "I called her slice ugly because the thread was focused on that part of her (game)". Let me tell you something , Holmes, even if her game was ugly, her slice could have still been an exception, so calling it ugly just because you wanted to say that her game was ugly is hilarious to the extreme. It happens so that after her movement, her slice happens to be one of the most pleasing parts of her hame and is indeed beautiful in its execution and variety.

You are already full of yourself by commenting on what people should be seeing, if their eyes are functioning, so it is a little late to take up the high road, as it would appear that you want to do. It makes it even more amusing to me.

:cool:
I am not mistaken. You interpreted it the way you did or just assumed it for the sake of starting an argument. Once again, that's not my problem.

How many times have you said that now? How many more circles do you need to go around in? Her game is not pleasing and beautiful to me. Move along.

A guy who said I "reached a new low" and have an "absurd opinion" for God forbid finding Graf's game ugly, a guy who is convinced he thinks no wrong, calls me full of myself. Now that is the really amusing thing.
 
I love the use of that word. But what a pain those ppl are. If you believe them you would feel that instead of evolution, devolution of human race is happening.
Tell me you aren't one of those mugs who confuse evolution with improvement.

Also, humans haven't evolved in any significant fashion for how many years, 20000?
 

Tennis_Hands

Bionic Poster
I am not mistaken. You interpreted it the way you did or just assumed it for the sake of starting an argument. Once again, that's not my problem.

How many times have you said that now? How many more circles do you need to go around in? Her game is not pleasing and beautiful to me. Move along.

A guy who said I "reached a new low" and have an "absurd opinion" for God forbid finding Graf's game ugly, a guy who is convinced he thinks no wrong, calls me full of myself. Now that is the really amusing thing.
You are very much mistaken, and anyone willing to read what you have written will conclude the same. As for the rest that is your conclusion. I certainly don't share it, so you must think it acceptable to speak on someone's behalf too.

:cool:
 

Doctor/Lawyer Red Devil

Talk Tennis Guru
You are very much mistaken, and anyone willing to read what you have written will conclude the same. As for the rest that is your conclusion. I certainly don't share it, so you must think it acceptable to speak on someone's behalf too.

:cool:
Nope. And if any one of us loves to assume stuff and speak on someone's behalf from time to time, that's not me. :whistle:
 

tacou

G.O.A.T.
She had a semi-viable backhand slice she relied on for consistency off that side, but it was mostly a set up play for her fearless forehand, the shot that made her really great among women.
But some actual experience or research will show that there were many great slices back in the day before the two hander became popular.
enlighten us
 

skaj

Hall of Fame
No, it's Ken Rosewall but she is up there.

Maybe on the WTA. Goolagong was producing the finest slices I have seen on the women's side, but Graf was more consistently dangerous with the backspin.
 

Lebsta

Rookie
Yes she did and she looked so graceful when applying it. Her gliding movement on the court really was a sight to behold. The annoying thing is that she could hit through the backhand flat and hard, but she would only do it when really under pressure. Had she applied this she would've beaten Seles more often when she was at her peak.

I appreciate Serena as GOAT but Steffi will always be more my favourite. She was a phenomenon and so underrated it's criminal.
 
Or play on a fast court. Court speed is why new players dont understand how effective a slice can be.
Court speed, bounce and poly. Even if you are able to add a lot of bite to the slice, if you're hitting it off a shoulder high ball, it's tough to get it to stay low after bounce, especially on a high bouncing court. Graf's slice actually worked well against Seles because Seles hit hard and flat, keeping it low. It was Graf's forehand that at times was under the pump against Seles, especially running across to cover the forehand corner.
 

blablavla

Legend
Actually to be a dominant player on the mens side with predominantly just a slice backhand it would have to be the best ever. Although I think he hit a topspin drive backhand more often than Graf. Getting away with that on the mens side which is far more competitive, is a lot harder to imagine than on the as per typicaly depthless womens side (not being sexist, just real here).
is it accurate to say that after surgeries Del Potro hits mostly slices on BH side?
if so, any thoughts about Del Potor reaching the ranking he did?
can one say it's best ever?
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
Does she? She relies on it almost 100% on her backhand side and still achieved so much.

@mad dog1 , @SRUalum and I watched Steph hitting with Grigor Dimitrov. It was an odd dynamic to watch Grigor popping it, then Steph slicing with float or pace. It looks so natural for her though. I seem to recall she did swing through on BH's often so not nearly 100% slice.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
That's all she ever did...

Her game was so one-dimensional, she'd have struggled in today's tennis, even though the variety is still much lower than on the men's tour.
I suppose she'd struggle just as much as the more diminutive Ash Barty does? :)

(Barty having arguably the best BH slice on today's women's tour.)

 
I suppose she'd struggle just as much as the more diminutive Ash Barty does? :)

(Barty having arguably the best BH slice on today's women's tour.)

Barty has a two hander though and uses it a lot, especially for returning. If Graf played today, she would absolutely have to commit to TS BH returns. Slice, except as an occasional surprise, won't cut it.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
I liked her topspin backhand more, but she gave that up fairly early on.
By time I started watching her play, she had stopped hitting it. She did hit a couple in the 1999 Wimbledon QF against Venus when she swarmed Steffi at the net.
 
By time I started watching her play, she had stopped hitting it. She did hit a couple in the 1999 Wimbledon QF against Venus when she swarmed Steffi at the net.
She never really stopped hitting it nor did she ever become like Edberg/Fed/Sampras (coming over again and again whilst also slicing really well). Almost every big match Graf played, the moment she hit a TS backhand the commentators would say people keep saying she ought to hit it and at last she does. And that would be it. Maybe a couple or more in an entire three set match. If up against a serve volleyer like Novotna or Navratilova, more often than that because they would be at the net all the time and neutralise her slice.

You mention the 99 QF. Before that, at the RG final, she memorably pulled Hingis to the net with a vicious drop-slice (her disguise on it was phenomenal and, again, she rarely used it for whatever reason) and smacked a cross court TS backhand pass that Hingis had no chance of stopping. And the commentators then did what I mentioned above, to talk about how people keep saying she ought to hit and under pressure she did. The problem for her probably was there wasn't much 'flow' in her TS backhand. Nowadays Sampras' backhand is considered weak but even with his shot, you got a sense of him carving the ball. Graf always seemed to be trying to whack the TS backhand and you can't do that without hitting it out of the court altogether, lol, so she would instead keep a very short and flat swing on it. She usually also needed the ball to get low for her to be able to execute that shot, didn't work against balls even a little above the waist (because there wasn't enough of a down to up flow on it).
 
At 5:18, one of the rare occasions when Graf hit a beautiful TS backhand (the commentator too calls it as such) and also without it being a passing shot.


Another point on that note, I liked her groundies (as well as her serve) better with the Wilson. I know she was one of the illustrious Max 200G players, but I think the Wilson was likely lighter and let her get more RHS which is what she was always after.

Compare this with 38:12, the slo-mo of a passing shot in the AO 93 final. More stiff and robotic looking.

 
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NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
She never really stopped hitting it nor did she ever become like Edberg/Fed/Sampras (coming over again and again whilst also slicing really well). Almost every big match Graf played, the moment she hit a TS backhand the commentators would say people keep saying she ought to hit it and at last she does. And that would be it. Maybe a couple or more in an entire three set match. If up against a serve volleyer like Novotna or Navratilova, more often than that because they would be at the net all the time and neutralise her slice.

You mention the 99 QF. Before that, at the RG final, she memorably pulled Hingis to the net with a vicious drop-slice (her disguise on it was phenomenal and, again, she rarely used it for whatever reason) and smacked a cross court TS backhand pass that Hingis had no chance of stopping. And the commentators then did what I mentioned above, to talk about how people keep saying she ought to hit and under pressure she did. The problem for her probably was there wasn't much 'flow' in her TS backhand. Nowadays Sampras' backhand is considered weak but even with his shot, you got a sense of him carving the ball. Graf always seemed to be trying to whack the TS backhand and you can't do that without hitting it out of the court altogether, lol, so she would instead keep a very short and flat swing on it. She usually also needed the ball to get low for her to be able to execute that shot, didn't work against balls even a little above the waist (because there wasn't enough of a down to up flow on it).
Yea I forgot about that shot in that Hingis match and I immediately knew what point you meant because she hit it so rarely during that time. By the time I started watching her play she was slicing it over 90% of the time so I missed matches earlier in her career when she hit it more often. I never really had a sense of how good her topspin backhand was because like you said it was usually hit when the opponent was at the net instead of at the baseline.
 
Yea I forgot about that shot in that Hingis match and I immediately knew what point you meant because she hit it so rarely during that time. By the time I started watching her play she was slicing it over 90% of the time so I missed matches earlier in her career when she hit it more often. I never really had a sense of how good her topspin backhand was because like you said it was usually hit when the opponent was at the net instead of at the baseline.
I have watched entire matches from the late 80s of her and I doubt there was any point in her career when she REGULARLY hit it. In the way that the men with one handers were doing. If, as the Graf fans allege, it was so difficult with those racquets to hit a TS backhand except on a passing shot, how come Becker and Edberg were returning each other's serves (often even getting each other's number with the TS BH). She did chance her arm more in the late 80s, particularly the Olympics, using it more often on returns. But as a RALLY shot, very rare. Even Navratilova used to pull out the TS BH as a rally shot on clay but not Graf. Her wonderful footwork and body balance deceive the eyes; the TS BH was not a great shot of hers, period.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
I have watched entire matches from the late 80s of her and I doubt there was any point in her career when she REGULARLY hit it. In the way that the men with one handers were doing. If, as the Graf fans allege, it was so difficult with those racquets to hit a TS backhand except on a passing shot, how come Becker and Edberg were returning each other's serves (often even getting each other's number with the TS BH). She did chance her arm more in the late 80s, particularly the Olympics, using it more often on returns. But as a RALLY shot, very rare. Even Navratilova used to pull out the TS BH as a rally shot on clay but not Graf. Her wonderful footwork and body balance deceive the eyes; the TS BH was not a great shot of hers, period.
Ok thanks for this because I really didn't watch her play back then to have an idea of what her game was like. It's amazing though how she took a shot like a sliced backhand when in a lot of cases it can be seen as a defensive play and made it into a weapon in a sense, because players struggled to attack it.
 
Ok thanks for this because I really didn't watch her play back then to have an idea of what her game was like. It's amazing though how she took a shot like a sliced backhand when in a lot of cases it can be seen as a defensive play and made it into a weapon in a sense, because players struggled to attack it.
Oh, I didn't watch those 80s matches live either (too young to, lol) but I have since seen them on Youtube (some of them are up in full as opposed to HLs). I don't see a drastic difference in her game structure in the 80s vis a vis the 90s. She did, as you say, use the slice as a weapon. Which it can be IF you can consistently hit it with a lot of bite and really drive through the slice. The advantage of the slice is you can disguise the length and trajectory of it better than on a topspin shot. I can drive-slice and still keep it short and close to the line. The underspin will take it away from the line after bounce, so it's like a fast drop shot. BUT that's tough to execute against hard hit balls. The way Graf could slice off her backfoot and still get amazing length on it was incredible. Sometimes I do think her slice was better than her forehand and doesn't get enough credit BECAUSE it is not such a flashy shot.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Does she? She relies on it almost 100% on her backhand side and still achieved so much.
Margaret Court and Maria Bueno were both even more dependent on their slice. They never hit topspin backhands. They hit all their passing shots and lobs off that wing with underspin. Margaret had an aggressive one she used to approach and a floaty type that was more of a rallying shot. Both Graf and Court had the advantage of being tall and being able to put more weight and purchase behind their slice. Graf had the advantage of playing in an era of two handed backhands and those players were not as natural at using return slices. Hard to do anything offensive off the ground against it unless you get there real early.
 
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NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
Oh, I didn't watch those 80s matches live either (too young to, lol) but I have since seen them on Youtube (some of them are up in full as opposed to HLs). I don't see a drastic difference in her game structure in the 80s vis a vis the 90s. She did, as you say, use the slice as a weapon. Which it can be IF you can consistently hit it with a lot of bite and really drive through the slice. The advantage of the slice is you can disguise the length and trajectory of it better than on a topspin shot. I can drive-slice and still keep it short and close to the line. The underspin will take it away from the line after bounce, so it's like a fast drop shot. BUT that's tough to execute against hard hit balls. The way Graf could slice off her backfoot and still get amazing length on it was incredible. Sometimes I do think her slice was better than her forehand and doesn't get enough credit BECAUSE it is not such a flashy shot.
Yea and it was very effective on grass, which is why she dominated Wimbledon. I felt like on hardcourt that's when that shot became less of a weapon and made her more vulnerable because it sat up more. Seles, in particular, just hammered that side on hardcourt and clay really. I think she was only true player of that time whose game was tailor made to take down Graf.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Oh, I didn't watch those 80s matches live either (too young to, lol) but I have since seen them on Youtube (some of them are up in full as opposed to HLs). I don't see a drastic difference in her game structure in the 80s vis a vis the 90s. She did, as you say, use the slice as a weapon. Which it can be IF you can consistently hit it with a lot of bite and really drive through the slice. The advantage of the slice is you can disguise the length and trajectory of it better than on a topspin shot. I can drive-slice and still keep it short and close to the line. The underspin will take it away from the line after bounce, so it's like a fast drop shot. BUT that's tough to execute against hard hit balls. The way Graf could slice off her backfoot and still get amazing length on it was incredible. Sometimes I do think her slice was better than her forehand and doesn't get enough credit BECAUSE it is not such a flashy shot.
The biggest difference between Graf in the eighties and 90's was that while she continued to employ it as a passing shot, she used that offensive topspin backhand less in rallies as time went on. That may be because the players were hitting theirs harder and she was in a more defensive situation and robbed of time. against the Big Babe brigade. She definitely was less frequent after Monica and Davenport, and Pierce showed up..

There was nothing remotely tactical about what Graf did with that forehand. She looked for a hole and pounded, but that backhand was a way to move her opponent up and down, side to side to side, and work the angles and the depth of the court and exploit any weaknesses in her opponent. That slice induced errors, or created the target openning the forehand blasted into. It was also where her more effective dropshot lay in wait to drag someone into the net, She did that a lot with Sabatini, bringing her into the net on Graf's terms, out of position.
 
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suwanee4712

Professional
Graf might have the best slice on the ladies side though I would definitely rate Rosewall's better especially from an offensive standpoint.

I feel Graf gets too much criticism for her backhand. She used her slice to great effect in moving her opponent around. I think it complimented well what she was trying to do with her forehand.
 
The biggest difference between Graf in the eighties and 90's was that while she continued to employ it as a passing shot, she used that offensive topspin backhand less in rallies as time went on. That may be because the players were hitting theirs harder and she was in a more defensive situation and robbed of time. against the Big Babe brigade. She definitely was less frequent after Monica and Davenport, and Pierce showed up..

There was nothing remotely tactical about what Graf did with that forehand. She looked for a hole and pounded, but that backhand was a way to move her opponent up and down, side to side to side, and work the angles and the depth of the court and exploit any weaknesses in her opponent. That slice induced errors, or created the target openning the forehand blasted into. It was also where her more effective dropshot lay in wait to drag someone into the net, She did that a lot with Sabatini, bringing her into the net on Graf's terms, out of position.
Well, I don't recall her using it (the TS backhand) regularly in rallies even in the 80s. You would certainly see the TS BH more often than in the 90s but it was still 95% slice and 5% TS which became 99% and 1% (or even less) respectively in the 90s. It's what you say about the power hitters coming through and forcing Graf to get into a defensive mode rather than being able to hit right through her opponents as she could joyfully in the 80s. It's also that the only netrusher who bothered Graf again and again in the 90s was Novotna (not counting the two Lori McNeil upsets) and as the rest stayed back, the slice was a good way to get the ball OUT of their wheelhouse, make them uncomfortable and, if nothing else, slow them down. It worked well against all three - Seles, Davenport and Pierce. But because Seles was going hard and flat on both sides and moved better than Davenport or Pierce, she forced Graf to park herself all the time in the BH corner and defend that wing. And then, she would make Graf run across to the FH corner with a hard, flat ball (again) which was tough even for Graf to retrieve (not to mention she was NOT that great at hitting on the rise off the FH wing and frequently resorted to lobs which Seles devoured). On the days when Graf's IO FH was firing on all cylinders (RG 92), she could counter this (or nearly, if you will) but if it was even a little less lethal (as in AO 93), she paid the price.

If you watch the 1990 RG final, Graf tried standing more in the middle of the court to let herself get on the FH cross court early but it flopped as a strategy because it allowed Seles to pull Graf wide on the BH wing, which was much harder to cover for her. As such, yeah, the advent of the power hitters forced Graf to morph into the stereotyped image of her - standing in the BH wing going IO on the forehand and slicing all the time. Which brings us back again to the fact that her TS BH was at best a decent shot but wasn't good enough for her to counter attacks into the BH wing, for which she had to resort to slice. Another aspect could be that as great an athlete as she was, she was older than these players and it was possibly exhausting for her to have to keep running left to right, countering hard groundies and she could use the slice to slow them down (as I mentioned before). This came out clearly in the AO 93 match where it was Graf who seemed to be worn out by the end while Seles looked good for several more games.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Well, I don't recall her using it (the TS backhand) regularly in rallies even in the 80s. You would certainly see the TS BH more often than in the 90s but it was still 95% slice and 5% TS which became 99% and 1% (or even less) respectively in the 90s. It's what you say about the power hitters coming through and forcing Graf to get into a defensive mode rather than being able to hit right through her opponents as she could joyfully in the 80s. It's also that the only netrusher who bothered Graf again and again in the 90s was Novotna (not counting the two Lori McNeil upsets) and as the rest stayed back, the slice was a good way to get the ball OUT of their wheelhouse, make them uncomfortable and, if nothing else, slow them down. It worked well against all three - Seles, Davenport and Pierce. But because Seles was going hard and flat on both sides and moved better than Davenport or Pierce, she forced Graf to park herself all the time in the BH corner and defend that wing. And then, she would make Graf run across to the FH corner with a hard, flat ball (again) which was tough even for Graf to retrieve (not to mention she was NOT that great at hitting on the rise off the FH wing and frequently resorted to lobs which Seles devoured). On the days when Graf's IO FH was firing on all cylinders (RG 92), she could counter this (or nearly, if you will) but if it was even a little less lethal (as in AO 93), she paid the price.

If you watch the 1990 RG final, Graf tried standing more in the middle of the court to let herself get on the FH cross court early but it flopped as a strategy because it allowed Seles to pull Graf wide on the BH wing, which was much harder to cover for her. As such, yeah, the advent of the power hitters forced Graf to morph into the stereotyped image of her - standing in the BH wing going IO on the forehand and slicing all the time. Which brings us back again to the fact that her TS BH was at best a decent shot but wasn't good enough for her to counter attacks into the BH wing, for which she had to resort to slice. Another aspect could be that as great an athlete as she was, she was older than these players and it was possibly exhausting for her to have to keep running left to right, countering hard groundies and she could use the slice to slow them down (as I mentioned before). This came out clearly in the AO 93 match where it was Graf who seemed to be worn out by the end while Seles looked good for several more games.
I too believed that she could have won some points here and there with that topspin DTL as a surprise tactic . Players tended to leave that side open knowing that they could cover her slice without too much difficulty. Her topspin backhand had real pop to it and it was always so unexpected. She allowed them to be a bit too complacent once they knew that they had successfully hit deep to her backhand. I don't think she would have won matches hitting it a lot, but I do think that had she saved it for some game points...and caught them a bit sleepy it would have paid some dividends.
 
I too believed that she could have won some points here and there with that topspin DTL as a surprise tactic . Players tended to leave that side open knowing that they could cover her slice without too much difficulty. Her topspin backhand had real pop to it and it was always so unexpected. She allowed them to be a bit too complacent once they knew that they had successfully hit deep to her backhand. I don't think she would have won matches hitting it a lot, but I do think that had she saved it for some game points...and caught them a bit sleepy it would have paid some dividends.
Yes, exactly! Because she was slicing everything, she had no ability to go behind the opponent on the backhand side. She should absolutely have used it as a surprise weapon, just to keep the opponent honest. But her obduracy is legendary, so it's not surprising she neither did that nor used the slice as an approach shot, except on rare occasions or against a serve-volleyer. I understand being conservative on the serve game but while receiving, she could have tried that. But she seemed to want to keep her options limited to feel in control of what she was doing. It sounds strange to say that of a player who won 22 slams but to some extent, she wasted her talent.
 

skaj

Hall of Fame
Judging from the poll results, most voters assumed that this is WTA only thread. I will try to rank the best WTA backspin backhands.

1. Graf
2. Goolagong
3. Court
4. Navratilova
5. Henin
6. Barker
7. Mauresmo
8. Novotna
9. Schiavone
10. King/Mandlikova/Barty
 
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BTURNER

Legend
Judging from the poll results, most voters assumed that this is WTA only thread. I will try to rank the best WTA backspin backhands.

1. Graf
2. Goolagong
3. Court
4. Navratilova
5. Henin
6. Barker
7. Mauresmo
8. Novotna
9. Schiavone
10. Barty
Kings slice backhand was viewed by many as the best in the sport in her era. Her forehand was her weaker wing, but Kings slice backhand was incredibly versatile. It was her better return and her better approach and her better lob. She could cause charging players endless grief because she had a knack for using it to force the most uncomfortable first volleys. It was also her most steady groundstroke.
 
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