Graf vs Henin on clay

Who wins on clay?

  • Steffi Graf

    Votes: 14 45.2%
  • Justine Henin

    Votes: 17 54.8%

  • Total voters
    31

skaj

Hall of Fame
I see that these threads are popular.

Unfortunately, this encounter also never happened but who do you think would win at Roland Garros, Steffi Graf or Justine Henin, assuming they both play their best? Also, how would they approach the match, which tactics would each of them they use?
 

WYK

Hall of Fame
Graf played when the courts were a good deal faster, with a super reliable slice that was a weapon on grass - much more reliable than Henins 1HBH, which could leave her on occasion, especially when conditions changed. We often forget that Henin beat Serena 6 times - 4 of which were slams. So she is no slouch even by modern standards. Still, tho, Seles's problems opened the door for Henin to dominate. We can't really argue that. And Graf hammered Seles more often than not, even if it was a younger Seles most of those times. We may also forget that Graf appeared on the scene during the transitory phase of tennis from the old game of wooden racquets and the modern game with graphite. She was sort of like the Guga of the WTA. Navratilova was similar with her graphite Yonex, except she had started to age by this time(but do yourself a favour and look at her wiki - she is still the most amazing tennis player in history). Graf came in using a graphite racquet and a more modern forehand than other WTA players. One of her first major victories was using her Dunlop against Evert who was using a wood stick. In the end, all sportsmen are products of their times. Well, Except mebbe Pete Rose and Nolan Ryan, who would both dominate today. Still, tho, Henin is a thing of beuty to watch, whereas Graf appeals more to Novak fans who like grinders.
 

Navdeep Srivastava

Hall of Fame
True, because that would be oversimplifying.
Actually op didn't say about peak, question is about clay, I think 6 RG with around 9 or 10 premier event ( don't know about the exact number)on clay is a better acheivment than 4 RG and may be 6 odd premier event.
If the question is about peak then I will give edge to henin but in last RG Steffi did beat top three seed to win slam.
It is very difficult for me to rate down a player with so big achievement
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
Henin had such a ridiculous streak at RG from 2005-2007. She went 21-0 at the FO, which includes 17 consecutive wins in straight sets. That's truly amazing. It's too bad that she was injured for most of 2004. Otherwise, she likely wins 5 straight RG titles. As it was, she won 4 titles in 5 years. And she beat some good opponents along the way.

2003: beat #1 Serena in the SF, then stomped #2 Clijsters in the final 6-0 6-4
2005: beat three top-10 opponents on the way to the final(Kuznetsova, Sharapova, and Pretova), then stomped Pierce 6-1, 6-1 in the final
2006: Stomped #2 Clijsters in SF, then #10 Kuznetsova in final
2007: QF-F, stomped 3 straight top-10 opponents in straight sets to raise the trophy, which includes Serena, Jankovic, and Ivanovic.

2003-2007: Henin was 10-0 vs the top 10 at the FO while dropping only 2 sets along the way. That's truly absurd.

Steffi has the better resume. But Henin peaked higher.
 

skaj

Hall of Fame
Actually op didn't say about peak, question is about clay, I think 6 RG with around 9 or 10 premier event ( don't know about the exact number)on clay is a better acheivment than 4 RG and may be 6 odd premier event.
If the question is about peak then I will give edge to henin but in last RG Steffi did beat top three seed to win slam.
It is very difficult for me to rate down a player with so big achievement
It says who would win the match, if they were to play their best tennis. It's not about who won more titles in their careers.

In her last slam Graf beat post-stabbing out of shape number 3 Seles, number 2 Davenport whose absolute worst surface was clay(reached only one RG semi-final, won all the other slams), and barely won against Hingis who was a few points away from the tittle and then her infamous meltdown happened. Anyways, not sure how is that slam so relevant for this topic.
 

Olli Jokinen

Semi-Pro
Graf played when the courts were a good deal faster, with a super reliable slice that was a weapon on grass - much more reliable than Henins 1HBH, which could leave her on occasion, especially when conditions changed. We often forget that Henin beat Serena 6 times - 4 of which were slams. So she is no slouch even by modern standards. Still, tho, Seles's problems opened the door for Henin to dominate. We can't really argue that. And Graf hammered Seles more often than not, even if it was a younger Seles most of those times. We may also forget that Graf appeared on the scene during the transitory phase of tennis from the old game of wooden racquets and the modern game with graphite. She was sort of like the Guga of the WTA. Navratilova was similar with her graphite Yonex, except she had started to age by this time(but do yourself a favour and look at her wiki - she is still the most amazing tennis player in history). Graf came in using a graphite racquet and a more modern forehand than other WTA players. One of her first major victories was using her Dunlop against Evert who was using a wood stick. In the end, all sportsmen are products of their times. Well, Except mebbe Pete Rose and Nolan Ryan, who would both dominate today. Still, tho, Henin is a thing of beuty to watch, whereas Graf appeals more to Novak fans who like grinders.
I'm pretty sure Evert used the PS graphite/kevlar in 1985 when she lost to Graf.
 

California

Semi-Pro
Graf, much better athlete, bigger forehand, better serve, fastest women's player of all time. How is Henin going to win? Great backhand, but what else? Beating Serena on clay is not really a big accomplishment. She is not a clay player in any sense of the word.
 

skaj

Hall of Fame
Graf, much better athlete, bigger forehand, better serve, fastest women's player of all time. How is Henin going to win? Great backhand, but what else? Beating Serena on clay is not really a big accomplishment. She is not a clay player in any sense of the word.
Nobody's a much better athlete than Henin, at least from the WTA. Henin is a great athlete herself, and a bit quicker(≠ faster) than Graf. By the way you are saying that Steffi is the fastest women's player of all time as if that is some kind of fact... She has the advantage for the serve but peak Henin could serve quite well and serve is not as important on clay as it is on faster surfaces. Patience is, Justine has the edge there. Her forehand is not quite as great as Steffi's but it is up there, excellent and dangerous shot. She has a better backhand and net game, can match Graf in the head department.
And Serena at her best was a very good clay court player, not that that is too important for this topic.
 

CyBorg

Legend
On a given day, anyone can win. But out of 10, I think peak Graf would win 7 over peak Henin.

I think hard hitting physical players hurt Graf more than smaller, finesse ones.
 

thrust

Hall of Fame
It says who would win the match, if they were to play their best tennis. It's not about who won more titles in their careers.

In her last slam Graf beat post-stabbing out of shape number 3 Seles, number 2 Davenport whose absolute worst surface was clay(reached only one RG semi-final, won all the other slams), and barely won against Hingis who was a few points away from the tittle and then her infamous meltdown happened. Anyways, not sure how is that slam so relevant for this topic.
CORRECT!
 

skaj

Hall of Fame
On a given day, anyone can win. But out of 10, I think peak Graf would win 7 over peak Henin.

I think hard hitting physical players hurt Graf more than smaller, finesse ones.
Henin was hitting harder than Graf off both sides. Both were physical player, Henin just had more finesse.
 

mightyrick

Legend
Hm, this is probably the best "Who wins?" thread I've seen in a long time on TTW. I have to give this one some thought. Probably need to look up the draws, as well. This one is pretty tough for me.
 

mistik

Hall of Fame
The only surface Henin might hava a little bit of a chance against Graf is indeed
on Clay but that does not mean she is beter than graf even on Clay. Byy the way henin is not Seles ı cant see a match up issue for graf against Henin.
 
The only surface Henin might hava a little bit of a chance against Graf is indeed
on Clay but that does not mean she is beter than graf even on Clay. Byy the way henin is not Seles ı cant see a match up issue for graf against Henin.
Indeed she's not Seles or like any player Graf faced. She has a far better one handed backhand than any Graf faced in her time. And her forehand is pretty good too, only underrated because her backhand is so good. She wouldn't hit through Graf, rush her the way Seles at her best could but she would grind her down with consistency. It's not a lock either way but Graf isn't better than Henin on clay, if at all, by the same margin as their RG titles. Graf was a versatile baseliner with some all court ability who adapted really well to clay. Henin was essentially a clay courter who used her own highly developed all court abilities (better, by far, than Graf) to also do well on HC or, to a lesser extent, grass. It would be a different matter altogether if Graf regularly used her brilliant slice to set up approaches to the net but she didn't. She was content to hang back and grind out a rally and yet was an impatient baseliner. Not the greatest strategy to have on clay. That she still won the RG 6 times is a testament to her incredible physicality but also to the weakness of the WTA post you-know-what. The elephant in the room that you cannot get away from. A player who hadn't won RG since 89 suddenly won in three of four years and added a fourth title in 99. That does have the whiff of making her look like a better clay courter than she really was. JMO.
 

mistik

Hall of Fame
Indeed she's not Seles or like any player Graf faced. She has a far better one handed backhand than any Graf faced in her time. And her forehand is pretty good too, only underrated because her backhand is so good. She wouldn't hit through Graf, rush her the way Seles at her best could but she would grind her down with consistency. It's not a lock either way but Graf isn't better than Henin on clay, if at all, by the same margin as their RG titles. Graf was a versatile baseliner with some all court ability who adapted really well to clay. Henin was essentially a clay courter who used her own highly developed all court abilities (better, by far, than Graf) to also do well on HC or, to a lesser extent, grass. It would be a different matter altogether if Graf regularly used her brilliant slice to set up approaches to the net but she didn't. She was content to hang back and grind out a rally and yet was an impatient baseliner. Not the greatest strategy to have on clay. That she still won the RG 6 times is a testament to her incredible physicality but also to the weakness of the WTA post you-know-what. The elephant in the room that you cannot get away from. A player who hadn't won RG since 89 suddenly won in three of four years and added a fourth title in 99. That does have the whiff of making her look like a better clay courter than she really was. JMO.
The funny thing is Graf grew up on clay her game style just suits more to fast courts but she was never a player who is hopeless on clay.Even without the seles stabbing she would have won 4 RG titles her game was so big.She in my book better player than Serena on clay as well Henin biggest rival.
 

Azure

Legend
She would not. Graf is so far ahead to Henin in every category and a far superior strategist. It would be no contest.
Every category? Henin is a quintessential clay courter. I see a Rafa to Fed like treatment of Graf on clay with Henin being Rafa here. Henin was a beautiful point constructor on clay. Graf was great on clay for sure, accomplishments show that too but Henin on clay was a beast.
 
The funny thing is Graf grew up on clay her game style just suits more to fast courts but she was never a player who is hopeless on clay.Even without the seles stabbing she would have won 4 RG titles her game was so big.She in my book better player than Serena on clay as well Henin biggest rival.
Nowhere did I say Graf is useless on clay. Maybe you inferred that because you have a low opinion of Henin on clay for whatever reason. Anyway, you say without the Seles stabbing, she would have won 4 RG titles. Well, that's the exact same number as Henin.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
She would not. Graf is so far ahead to Henin in every category and a far superior strategist. It would be no contest.
Graf had one strategy, hit people off the court with her FH. On the return keep the ball in play with her slice and athleticism until she could get the ball she could pounce on with her FH.

Amazing player, maybe even the best ever but strategist? C'mon now.
 

skaj

Hall of Fame
The funny thing is Graf grew up on clay her game style just suits more to fast courts but she was never a player who is hopeless on clay.Even without the seles stabbing she would have won 4 RG titles her game was so big.She in my book better player than Serena on clay as well Henin biggest rival.
How do you know she would have won 4 RG titles without the Seles stabbing?
 

skaj

Hall of Fame
Indeed she's not Seles or like any player Graf faced. She has a far better one handed backhand than any Graf faced in her time. And her forehand is pretty good too, only underrated because her backhand is so good. She wouldn't hit through Graf, rush her the way Seles at her best could but she would grind her down with consistency. It's not a lock either way but Graf isn't better than Henin on clay, if at all, by the same margin as their RG titles. Graf was a versatile baseliner with some all court ability who adapted really well to clay. Henin was essentially a clay courter who used her own highly developed all court abilities (better, by far, than Graf) to also do well on HC or, to a lesser extent, grass. It would be a different matter altogether if Graf regularly used her brilliant slice to set up approaches to the net but she didn't. She was content to hang back and grind out a rally and yet was an impatient baseliner. Not the greatest strategy to have on clay. That she still won the RG 6 times is a testament to her incredible physicality but also to the weakness of the WTA post you-know-what. The elephant in the room that you cannot get away from. A player who hadn't won RG since 89 suddenly won in three of four years and added a fourth title in 99. That does have the whiff of making her look like a better clay courter than she really was. JMO.
Small correction, since 88.
 

THUNDERVOLLEY

G.O.A.T.
You are being sarcastic?
No.

Every category? Henin is a quintessential clay courter. I see a Rafa to Fed like treatment of Graf on clay with Henin being Rafa here. Henin was a beautiful point constructor on clay. Graf was great on clay for sure, accomplishments show that too but Henin on clay was a beast.
...and Graf on clay? This is a woman with six French Open titles--she knew that surface as well--or better than most.

Graf had one strategy, hit people off the court with her FH. On the return keep the ball in play with her slice and athleticism until she could get the ball she could pounce on with her FH.

Amazing player, maybe even the best ever but strategist? C'mon now.
You don't become the GOAT with just a forehand and speed. Graf was out-thinking many of her opponents no matter what they threw at her.
 

skaj

Hall of Fame
No.



...and Graf on clay? This is a woman with six French Open titles--she knew that surface as well--or better than most.



You don't become the GOAT with just a forehand and speed. Graf was out-thinking many of her opponents no matter what they threw at her.
In that case you should know, Graf only has an advantage in the serve department, and an edge for the forehand. Justine can match her return game, her movement on clay, mentality, better her backhand, net game and strategy.
 
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