Evert - underrated power?

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
I've gone down a rabbit hole of watching Evert youtube vids, and I have to say, Chris could bang. I know she's not necessarily known as a "power player" and doesn't show up on our "most powerful women" discussions - but beyond her court tactics, her ability to move her opponent all around, and her incredible precision, her power was definitely a reason she could overwhelm opponents.

She often doesn't even look like she's hitting hard because her strokes are so unrushed - there's often no overt snappy action, which "shows" power. Also, video quality varies greatly and some of those older videos I think don't do justice to the power. I watched that infamous Gadusek-Evert match clip and they both had some nice power - with small headed wood racquets.

Anyway, just an observation.
 
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I think her power is mostly underrated since people like Graf, Seles, Capriati, and Pierce quickly came who took the power game (with the aid of ever upgrading technology and faster courts in the 90s) into the new age. Evert was the hardest baseline hitter of her time, other than probably Austin at her peak. She also does not have particularly power serve which negates some of the general view of her being a power player.
 
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bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
I think her power is mostly underrated since people like Graf, Seles, Capriati, and Pierce quickly came who took the power game (with the aid of ever upgrading technology and faster courts in the 90s) into the new age. Evert was the hardest baseline hitter of her time, other than probably Austin at her peak. She also does not have particularly power serve which negates some of the general view of her being a power player.
But Capriati and Seles really didn't have that powerful of serves either. Seles's got somewhat better and she was a lefty so it could be difficult nevertheless.
 
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But Capriati and Seles really didn't have that powerful of serves either. Seles's got somewhat better and she was a lefty so it could be difficult nevertheless.
Meh debateable. For early 90s standards when most WTA serves were an epic joke apart from the couple dominant servers like Schultz, Graf, Navratilova (even Oldratilova had one of the best 1st serves by far), Capriati had a pretty big first serve, and Seles not in 90 and 91, but by early 93 when she was stabbed she certainly did. Both had stronger serves than Evert by a long ways, Seles atleast by 92 did. Capriati had a better serve in her first prime than her second prime in fact.
 

BringBackWood

Professional
I agree, and I think some of her best matches were in 86 and 87 when she seemed to be hitting out more and following it to the net. It's such a cliche now but I wish Chris has gone to graphite much earlier than she did so. She'll always be remembered for her incredible precision as you say, which is what set her apart.

It's interesting to compare her's and Jimmy's strokes, the outstanding 2 handers of course, and the flattish FH's. I often felt she dealt with the low ball to her FH relatively better than Jimmy.
 

HBK4life

Semi-Pro
I think some might see footage from back then and think she didn’t hit very hard. But, if we got on court with her they would probably be surprised
 
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WestboroChe

Hall of Fame
I don't think she's underrated as a power player. Certainly not on the BH side. I think that if she had been born 15 years later and grew up with graphite frames she would have been right there with Graf, Seles and the other power women of the 90s.
 
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But Capriati and Seles really didn't have that powerful of serves either. Seles's got somewhat better and she was a lefty so it could be difficult nevertheless.
Seles was serving 160 ks by 93. For THAT time, that was about as fast as it got, unless you were Brenda Schultz.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
She could smack the ball pretty hard when she wanted to. And, agree, it was much more apparent when she switched to the Pro-Staff. She could go toe-to-toe w/Graf and Seles on cement. '89 USO match against Seles says a lot about this....she was dominant that day. Would've loved to see her play Serena...tho' Capriati v. Serena gives me some indication how that might play out.
 
She could smack the ball pretty hard when she wanted to. And, agree, it was much more apparent when she switched to the Pro-Staff. She could go toe-to-toe w/Graf and Seles on cement. '89 USO match against Seles says a lot about this....she was dominant that day. Would've loved to see her play Serena...tho' Capriati v. Serena gives me some indication how that might play out.
I don't think Capriati is that similar to Evert, although they are more similar that some might think. Both hard hitting and rock solid baseliners, with technically superb groundstrokes, extremely clean ball strikers, but that is about it. I do think Capriati at her best almost certainly would have still more firepower than even a hypothetical prime Evert transported to a new Era, and when fit (infrequent) she probably even is faster. However Evert is eons beyond Capriati as a match player, mentally, and in point construction. She is also far better at changing direction, placing the ball in remote spots on will, and is a better shotmaking. Capriati struggled to hit winners against players who hit as hard or harder than her like Venus, Serena, Davenport, even Graf, often having single digit winners, since she wasn't that effective at ending points or finding winning placements even while slugging it out evenly with them. Or against speedy players like Clijsters and Henin once they matured.

Capriati played the down the middle strategy against Serena more effectively than anyone which is the main reason for her success. Most top players wouldn't even have the patience and self tolerance to be able to maintain that for full matches, and those who tried like Hingis did not hit with sufficient pace and depth to make it effective. She centred the ball with painsaking self tolerance, only attempting winning placements or opening up the court at the best opportunities, and did it with enough pace, depth, and consistency to force Serena into lots of errors. Capriati tried this vs Venus too, but while this is the playback on Venus too, Venus atleast has better footwork than Serena. Thus no wins for Capriati.
 

suwanee4712

Professional
I can sort of understand Evert's power being underestimated today. But her power was also underestimated by the fans while she played. The commentators and analyst-former players understood how powerful her strokes were.

It was like a hammer driving a nail straight down. It wasn't as destructive as some other players' power, but it reduced the nail to only the head with everything around it seemingly untouched.

I think you also have to credit her efficiency in her strokes as well as her anticipation. We may only be talking about milliseconds of time here, but those qualities added to the devastation of her flat strokes robbing her opponent of time and leaving them standing flat footed or lunging at balls three feet from them in a normal rally.
 
I can sort of understand Evert's power being underestimated today. But her power was also underestimated by the fans while she played. The commentators and analyst-former players understood how powerful her strokes were.

It was like a hammer driving a nail straight down. It wasn't as destructive as some other players' power, but it reduced the nail to only the head with everything around it seemingly untouched.

I think you also have to credit her efficiency in her strokes as well as her anticipation. We may only be talking about milliseconds of time here, but those qualities added to the devastation of her flat strokes robbing her opponent of time and leaving them standing flat footed or lunging at balls three feet from them in a normal rally.
Speaking of Capriati, while Capriati's game is vastly different from Evert's in many ways their top of power was similar in the way you describe. Anyone who watches Capriati at every phase of her career knows full well she was not hitting winners off the 1st or 2nd ball hardly ever. Especialy not vs top 10 opponents. Her power instead was cummulative and constant and broke people down in medium to longer rallies. Even her historic 91 U.S Open semi vs Seles which is still regarded one of the best and most impressive power duels ever, rarely had her hitting a winner in points that were 5 shots or less between the 2 players, hitting many winners but almost all 6 shot or more points. Yet people hype her as some huge power player while dismissing Evert and overlooking her being a power player at all. Goes to show the effects of stereotyping and hype.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Speaking of Capriati, while Capriati's game is vastly different from Evert's in many ways their top of power was similar in the way you describe. Anyone who watches Capriati at every phase of her career knows full well she was not hitting winners off the 1st or 2nd ball hardly ever. Especialy not vs top 10 opponents. Her power instead was cummulative and constant and broke people down in medium to longer rallies. Even her historic 91 U.S Open semi vs Seles which is still regarded one of the best and most impressive power duels ever, rarely had her hitting a winner in points that were 5 shots or less between the 2 players, hitting many winners but almost all 6 shot or more points. Yet people hype her as some huge power player while dismissing Evert and overlooking her being a power player at all. Goes to show the effects of stereotyping and hype.
This is a good analysis of Jen. Yeah, her consistent power coughed up shorter and shorter balls and then she could hit her winners or force an error. Compare that to someone like Davenport, who often hit winners early in the rally - a clear startegy because she knew with her not-great mobility she couldn't make it a foot race. Jen had the movement to simply just hit hard without hitting winner until she had better position.

Someone on this forum once said that "Capriati just hits to where her opponent isn't" which made me laugh. I'm not sure how true it is, but I think they were talking about her just hitting to the open court, or if she was playing the middle, then just hitting the other half of the court from where here opponent was. Basically, I think the poster was saying that she wasn't regularly opening up the court with short angles or a specific strategy to hit behind her opponent. Again, I don't know how true it is, but it made me laugh because Capriati did sometimes come across as if she were just hitting the ball hard - like you said, not overtly constructing a point, but rather just grinding down her opponent so she could get a ball she could put away or force an error.
 
This is a good analysis of Jen. Yeah, her consistent power coughed up shorter and shorter balls and then she could hit her winners or force an error. Compare that to someone like Davenport, who often hit winners early in the rally - a clear startegy because she knew with her not-great mobility she couldn't make it a foot race. Jen had the movement to simply just hit hard without hitting winner until she had better position.

Someone on this forum once said that "Capriati just hits to where he opponent isn't" which made me laugh. I'm not sure how true it is, but I think they were talking about her just hitting to the open court, or if she was playing the middle, then just hitting the other half of the court from where here opponent was. Basically, I think the poster was saying that she wasn't regularly opening up the court with short angles or a specific strategy to hit behind her opponent. Again, I don't know how true it is, but it made me laugh because Capriati did sometimes come across as if she were just hitting the ball hard - like you said, not overtly constructing a point, but rather just grinding down her opponent so she could get a ball she could put away or force an error.
Yes that is a good analysis of Capriati's game. She had fairly low winner counts against the huge hitters like the Williams and Davenport, and sometimes the speedsters like Henin and Clijsters. Part of that is she was not that good at finding the remote places of the court or using extreme acute shots to create openings. Instead she played fairly basic patterns, good percentage plays, but fairly predictable. So despite her power and very solid hitting, it sometimes was hard for her hit winners, especialy quickly and easily.

You mention Davenport but the Williams certainly had no problem with movement or playing defense when forced yet they hit tons of winners early in points too.
 

galain

Hall of Fame
Evert hit a bigger ball than she gets credit for, for sure.

I think her depth of shot is what made her such a champion though. You have a look at her matches, she's usually hitting consistently very deep in the court. That would have been very hard to play against.
 

BTURNER

Legend
I can sort of understand Evert's power being underestimated today. But her power was also underestimated by the fans while she played. The commentators and analyst-former players understood how powerful her strokes were.

It was like a hammer driving a nail straight down. It wasn't as destructive as some other players' power, but it reduced the nail to only the head with everything around it seemingly untouched.

I think you also have to credit her efficiency in her strokes as well as her anticipation. We may only be talking about milliseconds of time here, but those qualities added to the devastation of her flat strokes robbing her opponent of time and leaving them standing flat footed or lunging at balls three feet from them in a normal rally.
The strokes were also well disguised. Very hard to read that Evert ball. Lets not forget that so much of this depth, pace and disguise has an immediate payoff in them doing the running, the lunging and feeling off balance, in those error stats, but it also as long term pay-off at 2 games all in the third. She who runs and lunges, to accomplish the same goal and get to that same score, is sweating more, hurting more, a little less precise in her footwork and stroke, and makes poor shot choices just to stop doing more running and lunging. Its an error now, and maybe couple more later matter.

Its just not fun playing Evert anymore after 1 1/2- 2 hours on a hot cement or clay court. Evert has a great three set career win loss stat.
 
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Greatgatsby

Professional
Renee Richards played against Evert and coached against her. Dr. Richards was quoted in the rivalry bio that Chris did not play patty cake and she hit bombs. That's an expert opinion on the subject if there is one.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Renee Richards played against Evert and coached against her. Dr. Richards was quoted in the rivalry bio that Chris did not play patty cake and she hit bombs. That's an expert opinion on the subject if there is one.
I don't recall the player she was coaching referencing 'Chrissie the Pusher' in any interviews either. After 80 matches, that is a expert on the subject if ever there was one.
 

Greatgatsby

Professional
I don't recall the player she was coaching referencing 'Chrissie the Pusher' in any interviews either. After 80 matches, that is a expert on the subject if ever there was one.
Richards has experience playing both mens and womens tennis and knowing hard hitting.
 
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PDJ

G.O.A.T.
Pam Shriver commentating on a match in the mid 80s was asked who hit the hardest groundstrokes on the tour. Her speedy answer was "Chris Evert". She elaborated by saying that whilst Navratilova was assumed to be the answer, it was Evert.
Evert when asked who hit hardest during her career said Graf on the forehand, but Austin hit equally hard on both wings.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Pam Shriver commentating on a match in the mid 80s was asked who hit the hardest groundstrokes on the tour. Her speedy answer was "Chris Evert". She elaborated by saying that whilst Navratilova was assumed to be the answer, it was Evert.
Evert when asked who hit hardest during her career said Graf on the forehand, but Austin hit equally hard on both wings.
They both forgot about this French powerhouse


 
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DMan

Professional
The thing about Evert and Durr and hitting with power. To use a quote from Game of Thrones, "Power is power." You can't refute power. But.......what kind of power is it? Chris Evert was considered to have 'underrated' power. Largely because she came up in the wood era, was just average size lacking the physical features that might exemplify power. But anyone who understands physics knows you can create power and force with how you interact with an object in motion. Having perfect timing, excellent follow through, and laser like focus and accuracy creates a specific kind of power. Evert did that time and again when she played, from her teenage years and into her 30s. Because she read the ball so well, got into perfect position and put the ball exactly where she wanted she also had the added factor of power. Her shots may not have always have had the same acceleration as a Serena screaming backhand winner. But a net rusher not in perfect position against Evert wasn't going to get to hit a volley with Evert's precise, powering down the line backhand passing shot. Chris was also so accurate (and confident) she could afford to go for her shots more than any other player.

Tracy Austin played like a (mostly) fine tuned machine. She also hit very flat. Therefore she could generate her fair share of power. But then again, you can see how all that 'power' playing from the time she was 5 did for her small frame.

As far as Francoise Durr, no top tier pro has ever had a serve as slow as hers. But there is another kind of power. Durr shared Evert's 'power of placement' ability. Frankie could place the ball on a dime, with just the right amount of spin, so that what looked like a powder puff serve or backhand suddenly lands slightly shorter and a bit more askew than you anticipated - so that when you had to finally stretch and reach to get to her shot, you're out of position and watching your shot go out.
 

Mr.Lob

Legend
I think some of the misconception on Everts power may come from her typical rally ball, which was deep and had great variety, but not overpowering. When she needed to hit hard....passing shot or working the ball to open up the court....she could laser it. That went along with how well she played percentage tennis. At least that's how I remember her play.
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
I think some of the misconception on Everts power may come from her typical rally ball, which was deep and had great variety, but not overpowering. When she needed to hit hard....passing shot or working the ball to open up the court....she could laser it. That went along with how well she played percentage tennis. At least that's how I remember her play.
Excellent post.
 

muddlehead

Semi-Pro
I've gone down a rabbit hole of watching Evert youtube vids, and I have to say, Chris could bang. I know she's not necessarily known as a "power player" and doesn't show up on our "most powerful women" discussions - but beyond her court tactics, her ability to move her opponent all around, and her incredible precision, her power was definitely a reason she could overwhelm opponents.

She often doesn't even look like she's hitting hard because her strokes are so unrushed - there's often no overt snappy action, which "shows" power. Also, video quality varies greatly and some of those older videos I think don't do justice to the power. I watched that infamous Gadusek-Evert match clip and they both had some nice power - with small headed wood racquets.

Anyway, just an observation.
Underrated power?
Huh?

She had one of the most lethal passing shots - male or female - of all time.
Watch a Borg rally ending w/one of his passers.
Then watch Evert ending a rally w/a passer.

In a sentence. She had powerful shots when necessary.
 
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Greatgatsby

Professional
In her 1982(?) biography she wrote that her father said most points are lost and not won. I think I remember reading that there if not I apologize its been decades.

This would explain why she did not just go all out for the point from stroke one. This enabled her opponent to miss first.

Wade said while commentating an Evert match that she always thought Chris just put the second serve back into play while she hit so many screaming winners of the first serve by comparison.
 
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BTURNER

Legend
In her 1982(?) biography she wrote that her father said most points are lost and not won. I think I remember reading that there if not I apologize its been decades.

This would explain why she did not just go all out for the point from stroke one. This enabled her opponent to miss first.

Wade said while commentating an Evert match that she always thought Chris just put the second serve back into play while she hit so many screaming winners of the first serve by comparison.
that was a direct result of her perception of risk/ reward. When she started her career, winners came from the net position, so aggression needed to be countered with aggression on return designed for that risk more than the clean winner return. When she ended it, they were ground stroke winners off short balls where one never needed that volley. She never fully evolved her game to adjust to the power of the newer ground stroke of young generation. She had one more last tactical step to take in the late eighties ( if you can't beat 'em, join 'em), but never took it. It seems to obvious in retrospect, that these opportunities to end second serve return points were sitting in her lap too, but habits of a lifetime are stubborn things, and she already had taken so many tactical steps to adjust...
 
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bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Underrated power?
Huh?

She had one of the most lethal passing shots - male or female - of all time.
Watch a Borg rally ending w/one of his passers.
Then watch Evert ending a rally w/a passer.

In a sentence. She had powerful shots when necessary.
Exactly. And it's underrated because her consistency ("she doesn't miss!") and placement is lauded much more.
 

muddlehead

Semi-Pro
Exactly. And it's underrated because her consistency ("she doesn't miss!") and placement is lauded much more.
Good on you by the way for watching a lot of Evert vids on YT. Guessin' I've seen every one of hers that has both some length >15 mins and is in HD. Impossible to see the ball w/o HD as we all know here. Needless to say I'm a huge fan. Used to argue way back in the day in those sports back and forths she should be in the discussion of the greatest all time athletes any sport any era. Still feel that way.
 
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