Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by dominikk1985, Dec 14, 2013.
What do you think?
I'd have to go with the Graf forehand. It was such a HUGE weapon and even in today's power game it would still be a huge weapon.
That forehand completely dominated the dynamic of almost every match Graf played from 1986 through 1999, regardless of opponent or surface. It was the problem that must be solved and all tactics were a reply to that problem. Frankly the only solution most of those years, was to pray Graf was having an off day. there is my vote.
Now my quibbles are with the other nominees and definitional. First I don't even think henin had the best backhand stroke! I think that was the Evert backhand even the Seles or Hingis backhands. Henin had the best onehander I think the forehand volley and backhand volley are two different strokes not one so combining them into a pair ain't cricket.
Henin's forehand was better than her backhand I would say. In fact I think her forehand was the single best shot in women's tennis from 2003-2007.
Fräulein Forehand's forhand!
With modern racket equipment it would be an even bigger weapon.
yes henins FH is very underrated. when it was on it was unstoppable but she also had days when she left it short and got punished (very spinny stroke).
was a very good shot but not the same level of consistency and sustained dominance as grafs FH or serenas serve which both were basically "on" every day for more than a decade.
the same is true for some other strokes like stosurs FH which is also unstoppable on a good day but can be less good on other days.
that consistency for like a decade is very rare. there are many big and deadly shots but a shot that is basically "on" nearly every day is very rare. serena for example sometimes plays total crap but usually her serve is still holding up. there are other girls who can hit 120+ but the difference is that serena is very consistent with it and rarely has a bad serve day even if the rest of her game is crap.
I dont agree with Henin's backhand even being in the poll. I agree with people who said her forehand was her best shot, more than her backhand. Her backhand was excellent but overated by some experts. The backhand that should be in the poll is Evert's, not Henin's. Not sure if there is any one shot of Henin's I would include in the poll though.
I think some other good additions to the poll would have been the Seles return of serve. You could also include Davenport groundstrokes and Seles groundstrokes overall in the poll. At their peak such a combination of pace, depth, angles, consistency, precision, and disguise off both sides from both.
I understand why most are picking Graf's forehand but I picked Serena's serve as it is the one shot (even more than Graf's forehand) that is literally untouchable when it is on. She has a better serve than most pro men when it is cooking. Not only is it the most powerful womens serve ever (challenged only by Venus and Brenda Schultz in that category) but such impeccable placement, the best disguise I have seen on the serve from any women or man ever (other than maybe Sampras), tremendous variety, heavy spin when desired especialy on the 2nd serve without sacrificing much in pace, and the ability to hit heavy kicking or off speed serves when desired. Truly deadly.
Maybe Henin did not have such a single stroke. Evert's consistency off that backhand was closer to 17 years than ten. Evert's faced more varieties of challenges considering all those tremendous S/Vers, baseliners and even some bashers she absorbed, to win trophies and majors on fast grass, green clay, red clay, hard courts, and carpet. That shot was the 'decider' in so many matches, I can't even begin to count them. When other parts of the Evert game might get shaky including her forehand, that shot almost never cracked.
One more thing, she virtually invented the stroke that would dominate the womens game for the next 30 years. Her personal creation was being built in Florida, simultaneously with Jimmy's in California and Borg's in Sweden. There really weren't any for her to model it after and her Dad/coach tried everything to get her to ditch it all through her youth! He gave up after he saw what it could do to older stronger opponents.
I am not arguing it was better than Graf's forehand, Martina's volleys or Serena's serve, but if you are picking a backhand, pick the right one.
Serena's serve. you can't even touch it. so what do you think ?
I've voted other just from the shot that gave me the most pleasure as a spectator- evert's variety of the lob. Truly a thing of beauty.
I'm agreeing with this and with the previous reply about Henin's backhand.
Obviously, it was a great shot, but, as stated, her forehand was better and, overall, I don't think it was the greatest backhand in history.
But, it was so fluid, stylish, a truly beautiful stroke, and it was still effective, so I get why people would vote for it.
Graf's FH and Henin's BH (Amelie Mauresmo was very good with her backhand). Between the two, forehand.
Sanchez' stop. You can't even touch it.
The question was "greatest stroke", not "most effective stroke" or what.
Serena's serve is an incredible weapon. What sets it apart IMO is you can't tell the difference between her slice and flat serve. And when she is on, I am amazed at how often she gets the flat serve in. You rarely see elite players hit a flat serve, but she hits it so hard, nobody in the game has a chance when that is working.
But I also went with Graf's forehand. On the run, inside-out, whatever. Great depth, great power. She would just stand over on the ad court baseline and dare you to go down the line to her forehand. IMO, Graf also had one of the best backhand slices in the history of women's tennis. It was a perceived weakness, because her forehand was so feared. But she struck the slice so hard and flat crosscourt, it landed deep and skidded. It was killer for her opponents to dig that off the ground.
And, my answer was that I don't think Henin's backhand is the greatest stroke or greatest backhand.
There is no universal criteria for "greatest" stroke. For me, effectiveness is a huge part of stroke greatness, for some others maybe not, maybe they care much more for aesthetics. That's fine.
Why do you think so many people voted for Graf? Because her forehand was the most beautiful, fluid stroke out there? No. Because it was a huge weapon, one of the most effective strokes ever and was always front and center in any match she played.
So far no comments on the Martina nomination. If you view it as valid combining two volleys as one stroke, I think its right up there with the Serena serve and that forehand. Those volleys as a deadly combination, were devastating and virtually all of her wins should be accredited to them. While King and Goolgong might have comparable backhand volleys, and Court might have had a comparable forehand volley, I don't think anyone had both wings covered so well. No one reached as well, and no one hit volleys with as much power. She had marvelous touch volleys on both wings to supplement.
I agree on this. Martina's volleys will get almost no votes for the simple reason hardly anyone on this forum even watched tennis in the 80s when she was in her prime.
I saw Martina's entire career. There is nothing wrong with ranking Graf's forehand in front of Martina's volleys. It is just opinion. Nobody is ripping on Navratilova.
If you wanted to add a stroke to the list, I might add Overhead Smash. Now that was a weapon that Martina used to turn the tide in her rivalry with Chrissy and intimidate everyone else. But, now that I think of it, King did the same thing with her overhead. Not sure whose was better.
Why not cover every shot? Would make for interesting conversation. Great thread by the way
Of course effectiveness is a huge part of stroke greatness. But do you want to suggest Henin's backhand was not effective?
Graf's forehand was both - graceful and extremely effective.
I found it ugly, but I voted for it just the same in this poll.
Would someone explain to me what sets Henin's backhand apart for other great backhands? Is it that it was a one-hander in a world of two-handers? i am not denying its a beautiful and effective backhand, but is it really that much more impressive than Goolagong's Mandlikova's or King's, or are these folks impressed by the power a modern racket provides her ? I really don't get it.
Yea, any of the three I would be proud to own.
Throw in Everett's backhand and you pretty much have an unbeatable female. I mean where on the court could you find a moment where you would feel safe?
the doubles alley?
Serena's serve and it is not even close.
Graf's FH is way overrated, just like everything else about Graf.
I also don't get it. In slow motion replays the Henin backhand looked jerky. Personally, of that era, I preferred Mauresmo's. I'm only commenting on one-handers.
Ps- BH smash, Bueno or Goolagong
Serena's serve makes her win so much. Serena without her serve would be as sucessful as Sampras without his serve...
One way to look at it is that Serena only gets to serve at best in 1/2 the games, where Miss Stephie got to plow that forehand every game.
Oh and btw, if her fh was so overrated, how did she rack up so many slams? Yes her foot speed was incredible and her back hand was consistent but doubt that it struck fear in her opponents like a short ball in mid court that you couldn't tell if the fh was going inside out or at the last moment pulled down the line.
I remember my first impressions of Steffi from 1985. I had not paid any attention to this girl, until after I heard Evert bragging about her. When I finally saw her I was decidedly unimpressed. This girl was leaping into forehands with a go-for-broke attitude and making far too many errors for each winner. She had no clue how to stabilize her balance before her stroke, and no idea where to stand in the court. She ran around her backhand and left herself completely open to a drive down the line. I just did not see what people were talking about. I did notice she was a jackrabbit, moved very well, but otherwise, there just wasn't much to see.
Obviously her coaches ruined any potential she ever had!
And they didn't teach her patience either because most of her matches in the first several rounds wouldn't last more than 35 minutes.
Are you serious? She racked up all the slams thanks to the fact that Seles was removed by despicable act of violence from her path. How many slams would Navratilova have if some lunatic Navratilova fan did the same thing to Evert. Or say apply the same for Federer and Nadal or for Sampras and Agassi, or for ...
Graf is overrated because her competition was slashed using cold weaponry on the tennis court. So she does not count.
graf won 11 slams before seles was stabbed.
On this list, it's Steffi's forehand, but I'd go with Evert's backhand. Her ability to hit flat laser-like passing shots time and again off that wing, whether she had to time to set up or was on the run, was amazing. Her DTL pass of Navratilova on the run on match point in the 85 French Open final still gives me chills.
Only 29-13 in favour of Steffi's forehand against Serena's serve proves how underrated Steffi's forehand actually is. Only explanation is that Serena is still playing while Steffi retired more than 13 years ago.
And Seles won zero slams before the Graf family was blackmailed.
Without that Seles never would have reached #1. Simply would not have happened.
that is pure speculation. the blackmailing certainly hurt grafs motivation a little but you cannot really compare a blackmailing with a guy stabbing you.
maybe graf during that time was like 10-15% weaker than usual but no one can deny that the stabbing helped graf a lot (although I think that graf was starting to adjust to seles in 92 indicated by the close wins of seles and graf wins).
Graf even before the Seles stabbing (and she had alot more to achieve still even if Seles werent stabbed) had already achieved:
-The only Golden Slam in history
-One of the 3 only female Grand Slams in history, a feat the likes of Navratilova, Serena, Evert, could never manage.
-An all time record 186 consecutive weeks at #1
-Probably the 2 best years in the Open Era in 1988 and 1989 (Navratilova in 1983 and 1984 lost 1 fewer match per year but with a slam semi and slam 3rd round, it ranks below Graf with all 4 slams and 3 slams + slam runner up)
-6 consecutive years winning atleast 1 slam
-Already a double digit slam winner, only the 5th ever at this point
-5 Wimbledon titles in a 5 year span (87-92)
-Multiple titles at all 4 slams
-7 years in a row winning atleast 6 titles
She was already a legend and all time great, and had already achieved many things Seles was almost certain to never achieve. Graf also didnt have a 1-3 record vs her biggest rival, including a loss on every surface, and losing a slam final 6-2, 6-1, during her 2 best years ever like a certain someone did.
If you dont think Graf is the GOAT that is fine. I actually dont think she is either (although I acknowledge that is what most experts and fans believe, even if it isnt my own, that seems to be a skill you dont possess, accepting your own viewpoint is not the belief of most). However to deny her incredible forehand carried her to alot of success on her own merits, and her great career was simply a product of the Seles stabbing, is beyond delusional.
I was gong to abstain from voting, but this post was the last push I needed to pick Serena Graf's forehand gets more than DOUBLE the votes and you cite that as proof it's underrated (because it should be even more)? I mean really, if it was THAT great, how did she lose to 17 year old Serena? If it was that much better, she should have a winning h2h instead of even. You use the forehand in every game, as someone else pointed out, so she should have obliterated Serena instead of 2 very close matches. I'm really agnostic on the subject, but I definitely think Serena's serve deserves more respect than this.
Whether the current #1 player is suddenly 10-15 % weaker due to a blackmail scandal or not playing anymore due to a stabbing's aftermath doesn't make a big difference for the #2 player - she will get the #1 ranking very fast in BOTH cases.
That a stabbing is something different than a blackmail has no relevance in that regard.
OK the Seles ubers who try to insist Graf was nothing without the stabbing, Seles is godly and was on her way to GOAThood, blah blah.....are annoying but lets be real here. The stabbing is NOT comparable to a blackmail scandal involving a family member. They are a universe apart.
Navratilova and Evert lost to 15-year-old players right in the middle of their careers.
Serena lost a few matches against players ranked below #100.
How bad must Navratilova's volleys, Evert's backhand and Serena's serve have been ...
Graf was in no way in her prime in 1999. She was coming back a major surgery and layoff and was a shadow of her 1986-1996 level. She managed to have some success inspite of that but then again so did Serena in 1999 (U.S Open Champion, Indian Wells Champion, 5 titles, Tennis Magazine Player of year). Serena's 1999 probably ranks alot higher up in Serena's best years than 1999 does for Graf, which would probably be about 12th. If anything the reverse is true, Serena should have spanked Graf that year, but she instead lost once, barely won the other, and lost badly in an exhibition match.
That said I do think Serena's serve is probably the top choice on this topic, even over Graf's forehand, Evert's backhand (which totally should have been on the poll), Navratilova's volleys, Wills forehand (which also should have been on the poll), Connolly and Seles groundstrokes (again should have been on the poll).
The effect was the same - the #2 player reached #1. And that's the only point here.
To say otherwise means criticizing Graf for her loss of form after the blackmail scandal broke.
I know....2 matches at dawn and twilight of their careers are not adequate to judge (although it's really cool they happened). Too bad there wasn't more overlap. I was just responding a little trollishly to what I thought was mildly trollish post. Just having a little fun.
True, they were all terrible. Weak eras too, especially Evert.
That is not GOAT worthy.
Serena won zero slams before Seles was stabbed.
She was always distracted by outside interests.
Separate names with a comma.