Post-stabbing Seles - the breakdown - more consistent than I remember; she had her chances.

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
I was a huge Seles fan when she was playing. Obviously would have loved to see her career play out without the stabbing. I simply believe she would have won more Slams - though I really have no idea how many more. She missed 10 Slams post-stabbing. I think she would have won some of those. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to start a Graf-Seles debate at all - she could have won three (the Sanchez Vicario FO and USO wins, and the Pierce AO win) without affecting Graf at all. I do not rank her on GOAT lists based on anything other than the 9 she did win.

But, the point here isn't to focus on the the Slams she missed, but rather the Slams she played. So here we go. A couple of stats/impressions

She played 26 Slams post-stabbing. She made the QF or better in 20.

She won 1 Slam and was runner up in two more.

She lost to the champion 7 times

She lost to the champion or the runner up 13 times (a full 50% of Slams played).

And she had legit chances at more Slams - the 1995 USO, losing to Graf in three sets. Certainly the 1998 French Open where she beats Hingis (who was a huge thorn in her side) in the SFs, only to lose the final to ASV who she generally dominated. Even the 2000 French, where she went three sets with champion Pierce. But, it wasn't to be. Also, she missed the AO in 1997, 1998, and 2000 - too bad because that was probably her best Slam.

Over time, the fitness and loss of a step/movement, the fact that there was a lot of new players who could hit big and take the court away from her (plus Hingis who could move her and toy with her), and probably some confidence loss took their affect such that she didn't win Slams. I don't remember when "Fat/big Monica" started, but she was still in pretty good shape in the late 1990s. She lost a fair share of matches against good opponents after winning the first set

My big question - she had a solid year in 2002 in the Slams - SF, QF, QF, QF, and then nose dived in 2003. Why? She lost 2nd round AO and 1st round FO. And that was it for her career.

So, here's all the post-stabbing Slam results:
Bold and underlined means she lost to the champion, bold only means she lost to the runner up.

  • 1995 USO F 6-7 6-0 3-6 Graf
  • 1996 AO W 6-4 6-1 Huber
  • 1996 FO QF 6-7 3-6 Novotna
  • 1996 Wimb 2nd 5-7 7-5 4-6 Studenikova
  • 1996 USO F 5-7, 4-6 Graf
  • 1997 FO SF 7-6 5-7 4-6 Hingis
  • 1997 Wimb 3rd 6-0 4-6 6-8 Testud
  • 1997 USO QF 7-6 6-7 3-6 Spirlea
  • 1998 FO F 6-7 6-0 2-6 Sanchez-Vicario
  • 1998 Wimb QF 6-7 2-6 Zvereva
  • 1998 USO QF 4-6 4-6 Hingis
  • 1999 AO SF 2-6, 4-6 Hingis
  • 1999 FO SF 7-6 3-6 4-6 Graf
  • 1999 Wimb 3rd 6-7 6-7 Lucic
  • 1999 USO QF 6-4 3-6 2-6 S. Williams
  • 2000 FO QF 6-4 3-6 4-6 Pierce
  • 2000 Wimb QF 7-6 4-6 0-6 Davenport
  • 2000 USO QF 0-6, 5-7 Hingis
  • 2001 AO QF 7-5 4-6 3-6 Capriati
  • 2001 USO 4th 5-7 6-4 3-6 Bendanova
  • 2002 AO SF 6-4 1-6 4-6 Hingis
  • 2002 FO QF 4-6 3-6 V. Williams
  • 2002 Wimb QF 5-7 6-7 Henin
  • 2002 USO QF 2-6, 3-6 V. Williams
  • 2003 AO 2nd 7-6 5-7 3-6 Koukalova
  • 2003 FO 1st 4-6, 0-6 Petrova
 
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I would say her only real chances at another slam were:

95 U.S Open- She had possible chances in this match, both with a set point in the 1st set (she won the 2nd set easily), and numerous chances in the 3rd. She lost the 96 final to Graf too, but always looked like losing that match from the start.

97 French- She had chances to win vs Hingis in the semis but played a poor game at 5-5 in the 2nd set, after Hingis herself had choked to let her back in the 2nd. Hingis was also very rusty and far from top form after the layoff from a horse riding accident. She also owns Majoli who she would have played in the final, but Majoli played such an incredible final there is a good chance she wins over Seles anyway, but still a legit shot.

98 French- The most obvious by far. And this match almost mirrored the 95 U.S Open final in many ways.

2002 Australian- This is a longer shot since even after beating Venus I see her then beating Hingis and Capriati as well unlikely. However the semi vs Hingis was close, and Hingis was already in a massively weakened mental state, and she always was fairly competitive with Capriati at every stage of their careers. This is weaker than the other 3 but still a legit shot.

I really dont see any others.

2000 French- Even if she beat Pierce she wasnt ever beating Hingis who she lost to 6-3, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0, 7-5 in their other matches that year apart from the 3 set YEC final on a really fast court.

1999 French- Even if she beat Graf, and I think Graf was on top most of the match anyhow, she is very unlikely to beat Hingis here, although more shot than 2000. The whole crowd fiasco that helped Graf in the final over Hingis never happens here either since a)Seles is nowhere near as popular apart from in the U.S as Graf, b)it was a flukish set of events including Hingis crossing the net for one call which led to this anyway. And Hingis hates Graf and would never cross the net against Seles the way she did to spurn Graf.

2001 Australian- Some call this a shot since she led Capriati in their quarter final, and Capriati went on to win the title. I really dont think so at all, even if she beat Capriati she wasnt beating Davenport (who she has an awful record against) then Hingis all in a row to win. Davenport played an awful semi vs Capriati, but even with that I cant see it.

As for her 2003 decline she was injured, and a chronic foot problem was the main thing that forced her retirement. She was injured in Australia when she went out to some nobody, got healthy agian for a tournament where she did well, taking out Mauresmo in the semis, before losing to a pre prime Henin in 3 sets in the final. Then by the French was injured again. She must have not healed enough to return, but basically she was becoming more injury prone at that point, especialy foot problems.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
She was barely 19 when she won her last slam before the stabbing. It’s quite possible that she would have improved quite a bit without the long break.

We will never know and that’s a stinking shame.
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
She was barely 19 when she won her last slam before the stabbing. It’s quite possible that she would have improved quite a bit without the long break.

We will never know and that’s a stinking shame.
She was at peak pre-stabbing, little room for improvement. Try not to become a Selesian fanboi.
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
I would say her only real chances at another slam were:

95 U.S Open- She had possible chances in this match, both with a set point in the 1st set (she won the 2nd set easily), and numerous chances in the 3rd. She lost the 96 final to Graf too, but always looked like losing that match from the start.

97 French- She had chances to win vs Hingis in the semis but played a poor game at 5-5 in the 2nd set, after Hingis herself had choked to let her back in the 2nd. Hingis was also very rusty and far from top form after the layoff from a horse riding accident. She also owns Majoli who she would have played in the final, but Majoli played such an incredible final there is a good chance she wins over Seles anyway, but still a legit shot.

98 French- The most obvious by far. And this match almost mirrored the 95 U.S Open final in many ways.

2002 Australian- This is a longer shot since even after beating Venus I see her then beating Hingis and Capriati as well unlikely. However the semi vs Hingis was close, and Hingis was already in a massively weakened mental state, and she always was fairly competitive with Capriati at every stage of their careers. This is weaker than the other 3 but still a legit shot.

I really dont see any others.

2000 French- Even if she beat Pierce she wasnt ever beating Hingis who she lost to 6-3, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0, 7-5 in their other matches that year apart from the 3 set YEC final on a really fast court.

1999 French- Even if she beat Graf, and I think Graf was on top most of the match anyhow, she is very unlikely to beat Hingis here, although more shot than 2000. The whole crowd fiasco that helped Graf in the final over Hingis never happens here either since a)Seles is nowhere near as popular apart from in the U.S as Graf, b)it was a flukish set of events including Hingis crossing the net for one call which led to this anyway. And Hingis hates Graf and would never cross the net against Seles the way she did to spurn Graf.

2001 Australian- Some call this a shot since she led Capriati in their quarter final, and Capriati went on to win the title. I really dont think so at all, even if she beat Capriati she wasnt beating Davenport (who she has an awful record against) then Hingis all in a row to win. Davenport played an awful semi vs Capriati, but even with that I cant see it.

As for her 2003 decline she was injured, and a chronic foot problem was the main thing that forced her retirement. She was injured in Australia when she went out to some nobody, got healthy agian for a tournament where she did well, taking out Mauresmo in the semis, before losing to a pre prime Henin in 3 sets in the final. Then by the French was injured again. She must have not healed enough to return, but basically she was becoming more injury prone at that point, especialy foot problems.
Post stabbing popularity

I'd say Seles was popular every where after the stabbing. Her status was very different. However, I can only write with certainty that she had so much support at Wimbledon having seen her a few times live after 1993.

Also, she seems to have the most crowd support at matches at RG that I've seen on YouTube.
 
Post stabbing popularity

I'd say Seles was popular every where after the stabbing. Her status was very different. However, I can only write with certainty that she had so much support at Wimbledon having seen her a few times live after 1993.

Also, she seems to have the most crowd support at matches at RG that I've seen on YouTube.
I dont know, Graf was always super popular in Paris. And I thought the crowd was rooting for Graf still more than Seles in their 99 French semi which I have on tape.

I didnt sense the crowd rooting for Seles over Graf in their 99 Australian Open match either.

Maybe that is partly since Graf was on the comeback from injury and lower ranked for both of those matches (even though she was the bettors favorite in both anyway).

3 of their 5 post stabbing matches were in New York, and yes the crowd rooted for Seles in those, whereas before the stabbing and before becoming a U.S citizen an American crowd would have never rooted for Seles over Graf.

Seles definitely was more popular after the stabbing than before it, I dont argue that. Pre stabbing she was one of the most unpopular players on tour with fans, and the least popular #1 ever probably.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Nothing surprises me in her Wimbledon results and those were the upsets on paper. She was inevitably going to be one of those few women champions that the locker room saw a vulnerable on grass every single round. The stars and moon were going to align on grass for big upsets one year and a sold performance the next. I do wonder how Novatna took her down at RG QF in 96. Seles confidence will still be strong after the Aussie win, and this was not a long three setter that might exhaust her, nor is Jana a player likely to cause a lot of trouble at the very top level on red clay. Seles had to be the favorite. Anybody see this one? Could this have been 'the' title she lost inexplicably and the beginning of her self doubts?
 

suwanee4712

Professional
Nothing surprises me in her Wimbledon results and those were the upsets on paper. She was inevitably going to be one of those few women champions that the locker room saw a vulnerable on grass every single round. The stars and moon were going to align on grass for big upsets one year and a sold performance the next. I do wonder how Novatna took her down at RG QF in 96. Seles confidence will still be strong after the Aussie win, and this was not a long three setter that might exhaust her, nor is Jana a player likely to cause a lot of trouble at the very top level on red clay. Seles had to be the favorite. Anybody see this one? Could this have been 'the' title she lost inexplicably and the beginning of her self doubts?
I saw that one. I think it helped Jana that it was hot and dry. Novotna wasn't spectacular, but she was solid from the backcourt that day retrieving a lot of balls until Sales made the error. Monica simply couldn't hit through Jana as I'm sure she would've in Paris in a damper year like 91 or 92. Maybe it's just me, but post stabbing, I don't remember Sales hitting through hardly anyone. She wasn't even remotely the same player mentally or physically as before. Had she been she would have 15 slams easily, in my opinion.
 
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I saw that one. I think it helped Jana that it was hot and dry. Novotna wasn't spectacular, but she was solid from the backcourt that day retrieving a lot of balls until Sales made the error. Monica simply couldn't hit through Jana as I'm sure she would've in Paris in a damper year like 91 or 92. Maybe it's just me, but post stabbing, I don't remember Sales hitting through hardly anyone. She wasn't even remotely the same player mentally or physically as before. Had she been she would have 15 slams easily, in my opinion.
Actually Seles still easily hit through Martinez, Sanchez, Fernandez, Sabatini as well as fellow (but lesser) power players Huber, Majoli, Maleeva (the youngest), almost everytime she played them. She hit through Graf in most of the last 2 sets of the 95 U.S Open final but somehow lost anyway. She hit through Hingis on occasion, but in the 98 French semis and 98 Canadian Open, and at times in some of the losses. She even hit through the huge hitting Pierce a few times, especialy the last 2 sets of the 97 U.S Open. She hit through Jana in their 95 U.S Open match, and some parts of their 98 French Open match. I agree she wasnt the same player as before the stabbing, but she still hit through most people regularly. Not always Graf, Novotna, Hingis, Pierce, and rarely Davenport, Venus, Serena, but I dont think that would be any different for pre stabbing Seles given those are all tough opponents for her, and Davenport, Venus, Serena, Pierce, and sort of Graf (some shots) probably hit harder than her, and all besides Pierce serve harder than her.

In some ways her weight gave her even more power post stabbing, but the problem was her movement was so compromised by all the extra weight, she was more error prone, and mentally she wasnt quite the same although still very tough, that the overall effect was still a weaker player for sure.

As for Jana beating Seles at that French, Jana was always a tough opponent for Seles. In 8 total career matches Seles has exactly 1 straight set win; and that ironically was a post stabbing match on a fast hard court. Even that shouldnt have been straight sets as Jana had 2 sets points in the 1st set on her own serve. Seles also came into the French vurnerable as she missed a ton of time that that spring with injury, she barely played any warm ups and didnt even finish Madrid (right before the French) which she played, and missed Miami. Many expected her to withdraw from the French and she only chose last minute to play. Here is an article that mentions it isnt even expected Seles would play the French: http://www.tennisserver.com/netgame/netgame_5_24_96.html She was having shoulder problems. This really affected her serve. The rust showed in some of the early rounds, she had a tough time with Sawamatsu and Appelmans. The only surprise of the upset was it was Jana on clay, which most people dont think of as a strong surface for her, but her worst surface in reality is probably rebound ace (despite making the 91 Australian Open final), not clay. She is still better on faster courts, but is surprisingly good on clay, and has numerous career titles on clay, despite not being that well suited to it. She had a shot of beating Sanchez in the semis where she led in both sets, but as usual choked.

If Seles had beaten Jana at the 96 French she might have beaten Sanchez in the semis given their match up, despite that Sanchez was in better form. She would have lost to Graf for sure in the final, and much easier than Sanchez did though, there would be no 10-8 in the 3rd classic like Graf-Seles in 92 and Sanchez-Graf in 96. Seles was just not sharp enough after all the missed time and with her shoulder problems. I actually think the match would have been more one sided than the 96 U.S Open final, as Seles had far more match play and was sharper by that point than she was here. I see a 6-3, 6-4 type win for Graf if that final happened.

In 97, 98, 99, 2000 she came into the French which much more match play and sharper than 96, and contended much more.
 
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Pheasant

Hall of Fame
She was at peak pre-stabbing, little room for improvement. Try not to become a Selesian fanboi.
We didn’t get to see Seles’ peak for a whole year. That is what I am getting at. Seles’ serve improved immensely during the last half of 1992 and early 1993 and the announcers mentioned it a lot. From early 1992 to early 1993, she added at over 10 mph to her serve. By early 1993, Seles’ serves were hitting 106-107 mph, which has very good back then. 12 months earlier, she was serving in the low-to-mid 90’s. In 1993, her serves had already become a weapon, which was a very scary thought.

Back then, the big question a lot of us had is his how she would do at Wimbledon in 1993. In 1992, she reached her first final at age 18 by beating Martina in the semis. She was nervous in that final and she lacked the experience to deal with Steffi’s slice back hand. But in 1993, her serve was much better and return of serve were much better.

I watched the 1992 USO. Seles’ played the best tennis of her career up to that point. She was a wrecking ball. Her dominance carried over to the 1993 AO. Another thing that raised some eyebrows was Seles’ return of serve in 1993. If I remember correctly, Graf only hit 1 ace against Seles in the 1993 AO final. Given Graf’s strong serve, that feat was nearly impossible. Steffi somehow stole a set in that AO final. But she was outplayed badly overall in that match. Seles picked on that backhand until she got an opening to hit a winner.

I am not claiming that Seles would have won 20 slams, or anything like that. But I am saying that her level during the last 6 months of her pre-stabbing career was much higher than ever before, due to a substantially beefed up serve and a better return of serve. This was quite evident for anybody that watched her matches at that time. She was still green on grass, although she had improved a ton there as well. It’s too bad that her last grass matches during her pre-stabbing career were played at age 18.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
What was it about grass and Monica? Clearly it wasn't the speed - she was just fine on carpet. It had to be the footing, which affects movement. Hard courts - pure, sure footing and bounce. Clay - slippery and not as sure, but can slide and reach for the ball; plus the ball bounces slower and higher. Grass -often have to bend lower, ball less often in strike zone, and efficient movement requires fast feet and a lot of little steps. Martina once said "jocks win Wimbledon." Monica actually had pretty decent footwork - but she wasn't a jock, that extra needed athleticism she just didn't have. (But what about Davenport then) And, obviously that would affect her confidence on the surface. She had her moments, but she never looked quite the same on grass.
 

BTURNER

Legend
I saw that one. I think it helped Jana that it was hot and dry. Novotna wasn't spectacular, but she was solid from the backcourt that day retrieving a lot of balls until Sales made the error. Monica simply couldn't hit through Jana as I'm sure she would've in Paris in a damper year like 91 or 92. Maybe it's just me, but post stabbing, I don't remember Sales hitting through hardly anyone. She wasn't even remotely the same player mentally or physically as before. Had she been she would have 15 slams easily, in my opinion.
Not alot of people talk about Novatna's defensive play from the back court. She moves exceptionally well back there with under appreciated footwork, and usedher slice off both the forehand and backhand to buy her time to get back into position. The real secret to her victories over so many top players like Graf and Seles was thatshe kept getting potential winners back and low consistently time and again. While Sanchez looped them back, Jana chopped them off either wing with more underspin than most did when on the defensive. there was a bit of Goolagong in the way Novatna handled drives that pushed her out of position.
 
What was it about grass and Monica? Clearly it wasn't the speed - she was just fine on carpet. It had to be the footing, which affects movement. Hard courts - pure, sure footing and bounce. Clay - slippery and not as sure, but can slide and reach for the ball; plus the ball bounces slower and higher. Grass -often have to bend lower, ball less often in strike zone, and efficient movement requires fast feet and a lot of little steps. Martina once said "jocks win Wimbledon." Monica actually had pretty decent footwork - but she wasn't a jock, that extra needed athleticism she just didn't have. (But what about Davenport then) And, obviously that would affect her confidence on the surface. She had her moments, but she never looked quite the same on grass.
She wasnt comfortable with her footing like she was on a clay or hard court. That was probably the biggest thing. She also did not have a slice which was a big asset on grass. It wasnt so much a weakness, but an additional asset she didnt have that others did. Not even a slice serve. And slice carries away so her opponents slices which were extra accentuated on grass made it harder on her two hands which limits reach to begin with.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Side note: The Seles-Hingis rivalry (or lack thereof) is kind of weird. Seles is 5-15 v Hingis. You'd think when a younger player has a dominant record against an older player, the older player probably got most of their wins early on before the younger player established themselves. But, Hingis won the first 5 meetings vs. Seles and the very first two matches were Hingis blow outs. Seles won intermittently over the rivalry. A couple of matches in the middle of the rivalry and then 3 of the last 6, including the last time they played in 2002. Seles had some close losses to Hingis in addition to her wins, but Hingis had more than a few blow outs or routine wins vs. Monica - other than the first two blow outs, there was was a brutal six match streak from the 1998 USO to the 2000 USO - 3 Slam matches, 3 Masters series matches - all blow outs (including a 6-0, 6-0 win) or at least "very comfortable" wins by Hingis. And that 6 match streak came right after Seles had finally won her first matches against Hingis - 1998 French (her best win over Hingis) and 1998 Canadian Masters. Then after that six-match streak blow-out streak, the rest of the rivalry includes just one lopsided Hingis win and the rest are close losses for Seles and 3 more Seles wins. Again, weird rhythm to the rivalry.
 
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Side note: The Seles-Hingis rivalry (or lack thereof) is kind of weird. Seles is 5-15 v Hingis. You'd think when a younger player has a dominant record against an older player, the older player probably got most of their wins early on before the younger player established themselves. But, Hingis won the first 5 meetings vs. Seles and the very first two matches were Hingis blow outs. Seles won intermittently over the rivalry. A couple of matches in the middle of the rivalry and then 3 of the last 6, including the last time they played in 2002. Seles had some close losses to Hingis in addition to her wins, but Hingis had more than a few blow outs or routine wins vs. Monica - other than the first two blow outs, there was was a brutal six match streak from the 1998 USO to the 2000 USO - 3 Slam matches, 3 Masters series matches - all blow outs (including a 6-0, 6-0 win) or at least "very comfortable" wins by Hingis. And that 6 match streak came right after Seles had finally won her first matches against Hingis - 1998 French (her best win over Hingis) and 1998 Canadian Masters. Then after that six-match streak blow-out streak, the rest of the rivalry includes just one lopsided Hingis win and the rest are close losses for Seles and 3 more Seles wins. Again, weird rhythm to the rivalry.
Seles was in her worst physical shape ever in late 96-all of 97, even more due to her dad dying of cancer than the stabbing. She had almost no chance against young Hingis at her most ever confident in that shape. Seles in later years off and on improved her fitness, but still sparatic. A lot of the later career build in wins was Hingis herself going downhill and losing confidence in herself more and more as her slam drought grew, and the big hitters especialy the Williams took over and pushed her aside. And a few of her traumatic slam losses. Seles only had to stay roughly the same level, not even catch up to her pre stabbing level, to build on her success vs an increasingly shaky Hingis.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Seles was in her worst physical shape ever in late 96-all of 97, even more due to her dad dying of cancer than the stabbing. She had almost no chance against young Hingis at her most ever confident in that shape. Seles in later years off and on improved her fitness, but still sparatic. A lot of the later career build in wins was Hingis herself going downhill and losing confidence in herself more and more as her slam drought grew, and the big hitters especialy the Williams took over and pushed her aside. And a few of her traumatic slam losses. Seles only had to stay roughly the same level, not even catch up to her pre stabbing level, to build on her success vs an increasingly shaky Hingis.
Okay, I haven't remembered Monica's fitness timeline very well. When she came back at the USO in 1995 she was in decent shape, then she wins the AO in 1996. Plus, I remember her looking in okay shape at the French in 1998. So, I always thought that she was in fairly good shape continuously from the time she returned in 1995 until around 1999 and only then did we see fat/out of shape Monica (to varying degrees). I guess there's more in shape (to varying degrees) and out of shape (to varying degrees) back and forth than I recall
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
Okay, I haven't remembered Monica's fitness timeline very well. When she came back at the USO in 1995 she was in decent shape, then she wins the AO in 1996. Plus, I remember her looking in okay shape at the French in 1998. So, I always thought that she was in fairly good shape continuously from the time she returned in 1995 until around 1999 and only then did we see fat/out of shape Monica (to varying degrees). I guess there's more in shape (to varying degrees) and out of shape (to varying degrees) back and forth than I recall
If you recall, prior to her comeback Seles had been working full out, and quite a bit with Navratilova prior to their exhibition to mark the return.
 
YEah there were alot of up and downs with Monica's fitness. Her fittest by far was spring of 98, with the worst by far spring of 97, but it all around varied quite a bit with all kinds of differing levels from late 95 until her retirement in early 2003.
 

boredone3456

G.O.A.T.
She was definitely consistent, the problem was she didn't seem as capable of grinding out tougher matches either physically or mentally upon her return. If I counted right, in 10 of the matches she lost in the OP, she actually won the first set. Seles prior to the stabbing was the type who, when she started strong...you were pretty much dead. When she came back she wasn't able to maintain that. Part of it was the trauma of what had happened to her, she never got over that and is messed with her horribly. Another part was that the rest of the tour had changed and evolved, in style, personality, players...and the new crop in the late 90's wasn't intimidated by her power game. In fact you could argue many of them were inspired by her in a fashion. She just couldn't close out the deal, and there were to many people who could beat her everywhere. The French was probably be best shot after the 1996 AO...but even there she just couldn't do it.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
Seles was out of shape when she got back and definitely lost a ton of the mental toughness that made her great before.

In a sport like tennis, it’s nearly impossible to comeback after a massive 2 1/2 year lay off.

Another poster brought up her record in matches that went the distance. So I had to look it up.

He’s her record against the top 20 in matches that went the distance:

1990-1993: 24-7
1995 to the end of career: 31-26

In 1997, Seles won the first set 4 different times in a losing effort.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
She was definitely consistent, the problem was she didn't seem as capable of grinding out tougher matches either physically or mentally upon her return. If I counted right, in 10 of the matches she lost in the OP, she actually won the first set. Seles prior to the stabbing was the type who, when she started strong...you were pretty much dead. When she came back she wasn't able to maintain that. Part of it was the trauma of what had happened to her, she never got over that and is messed with her horribly. Another part was that the rest of the tour had changed and evolved, in style, personality, players...and the new crop in the late 90's wasn't intimidated by her power game. In fact you could argue many of them were inspired by her in a fashion. She just couldn't close out the deal, and there were to many people who could beat her everywhere. The French was probably be best shot after the 1996 AO...but even there she just couldn't do it.
I think all of that is true. And, with a lot of strong players, both from her generation (e.g., Graf, Pierce, ASV) and the new generation, even if she did put a great match together, I don't think she had it mentally or physically to string three together over the QF, SF, F over top-flight opponents. So sometimes I think I should look more favorably on her post-stabbing results, rather than focus on the fact she only won 1 slam. She did pretty good and was up against a lot - both external (her opponents) and internal.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
Seles' mental toughness in 1993 was incredible. Here's her breakdown of matches when she won the first set and when she lost the first set. I'm going to exclude the match in which she got stabbed.

Seles won the first set in 14 of her matches that year. She won following set in those matches 13 times. In those 2nd sets that she won, she lost only 19 games, which includes 4 bagels and a bread stick. In the one other match where she lost the 2nd set after winning the first set, the score line was 6-2, 6-7, 6-0.

Giving Seles a lead was fatal. She was 14-0 after winning the first set, which includes 13 straight set blowouts.

She lost the first set 4 times, yet went 3-1 in those matches. That's remarkable. Her only loss was to Martina. 3-6, 6-4, 6-7.

Here's the 3 that she won after losing the first set:
4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Graf
4-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over Schultz
3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Martina

1993: 17-1 record with her only loss being a 3rd set tiebreaker loss to Martina.

Seles wasn't your typical teenage sensation that got caught up in her early success, then later flamed out. She was constantly improving, especially her serve(added 10+ mph during the past year) and her return of serve. Her mental toughness was incredible in 1993 as well. As a case in point, she allowed only 1 ace to Steffi in the AO final. That's incredible. Seles out-aced Steffi 7-1 in that match. In the semis, she allowed 0 aces to Sabatini. Unfortunately, I cannot find any other stats. But allowing a total of 1 ace to Steffi and Sabatini combined the semis and final of the 1993 AO is absurd.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Seles' mental toughness in 1993 was incredible. Here's her breakdown of matches when she won the first set and when she lost the first set. I'm going to exclude the match in which she got stabbed.

Seles won the first set in 14 of her matches that year. She won following set in those matches 13 times. In those 2nd sets that she won, she lost only 19 games, which includes 4 bagels and a bread stick. In the one other match where she lost the 2nd set after winning the first set, the score line was 6-2, 6-7, 6-0.

Giving Seles a lead was fatal. She was 14-0 after winning the first set, which includes 13 straight set blowouts.

She lost the first set 4 times, yet went 3-1 in those matches. That's remarkable. Her only loss was to Martina. 3-6, 6-4, 6-7.

Here's the 3 that she won after losing the first set:
4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Graf
4-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over Schultz
3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Martina

1993: 17-1 record with her only loss being a 3rd set tiebreaker loss to Martina.

Seles wasn't your typical teenage sensation that got caught up in her early success, then later flamed out. She was constantly improving, especially her serve(added 10+ mph during the past year) and her return of serve. Her mental toughness was incredible in 1993 as well. As a case in point, she allowed only 1 ace to Steffi in the AO final. That's incredible. Seles out-aced Steffi 7-1 in that match. In the semis, she allowed 0 aces to Sabatini. Unfortunately, I cannot find any other stats. But allowing a total of 1 ace to Steffi and Sabatini combined the semis and final of the 1993 AO is absurd.
That underscores my point that she very likely would have won at least some of those 10 Slams she missed, at least some of the 7 non-Wimbledon Slams. I really enjoy watching early 1990s Seles-Graf-Sabatini-era matches on youtube.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
That underscores my point that she very likely would have won at least some of those 10 Slams she missed, at least some of the 7 non-Wimbledon Slams. I really enjoy watching early 1990s Seles-Graf-Sabatini-era matches on youtube.
I agree with you quite a bit. I think that she would have been very tough to beat at Wimbledon during the next couple of years. She was tough at the 1992 Wimbledon by beating Martina in the semis to reach her first final at age 18. She missed the entire grass season the year before. With her new beefed up serve, stronger return game, and even stronger mental toughness, I think that she could have snagged a couple of Wimbledon titles in later years.

Grass is the area where she needed the most improvement. And she showed massive improvement in 1992 on that surface at age 18, despite missing the entire grass season the previous year.

That 1993 AO tourney and 1992 USO tourney is where she went beast mode on her ground strokes. She destroyed the ball from both wings with laser-like accuracy. Her service game was up a couple of levels by those tourneys as well; especially in 1993.
 

TnsGuru

Professional
Way too much emotional trauma with the stabbing and to top it all off the guy who did it served no jail time, how's that for justice? When she was winning she had Grafs number and she was on the verge of winning plenty more if not for the stabbing incident. She did well to start playing again but she wasn't the same player anymore, seemed like her killer instinct was missing or something.

At 19 she was loud/ferocious and fearless on the court and all the ladies were scared of her. I am a Graf fan but no way she would have reached 22 slams without the stabbing. Deep down I know Steffi knows this to be true.
 

BTURNER

Legend
I agree with you quite a bit. I think that she would have been very tough to beat at Wimbledon during the next couple of years. She was tough at the 1992 Wimbledon by beating Martina in the semis to reach her first final at age 18. She missed the entire grass season the year before. With her new beefed up serve, stronger return game, and even stronger mental toughness, I think that she could have snagged a couple of Wimbledon titles in later years.

Grass is the area where she needed the most improvement. And she showed massive improvement in 1992 on that surface at age 18, despite missing the entire grass season the previous year.

That 1993 AO tourney and 1992 USO tourney is where she went beast mode on her ground strokes. She destroyed the ball from both wings with laser-like accuracy. Her service game was up a couple of levels by those tourneys as well; especially in 1993.
Historically, one of the differences between the men's tour and the women's is that with the very top women, the very best of their era, will virtually always get that Achilles- heel slam at least once. if they keep showing up and striving religiously, while that is not true of the men. You will find Lendl without a Wimbledon and Sampras without that French, but Seles will get the winners plate in a normal career, just as King got her French. That's just the pattern. I suspect that 3 out of 5 on the men's side is largely responsible for this anomaly, as an unintended and inauspiciouus consequence. Its just harder to will your way through 3 of 5 set struggles against the odds round after round and good fortune in the draw can only take you soo far.

I definitely think it likely Seles would win one, maybe two, but no more. Graf, then the Williams Sisters will see to that. Seles was never going to have a grass game at their level. She never felt secure in her movement on grass and I don't think that really leaves you for very long in that particular two week tournament, no matter how much you practice. British dampness and rain exacerbates this nagging periodic obstacle between players like Lendl and Seles and a lot of Centre court glory.
 
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Pheasant

Hall of Fame
Historically, one of the differences between the men's tour and the women's is that with the very top women, the very best of their era, will virtually always get that Achilles- heel slam at least once. if they keep showing up and striving religiously, while that is not true of the men. You will find Lendl without a Wimbledon and Sampras without that French, but Seles will get the winners plate in a normal career, just as King got her French. That's just the pattern. I suspect that 3 out of 5 on the men's side is largely responsible for this anomaly, as an unintended and inauspiciouus consequence. Its just harder to will your way through 3 of 5 set struggles against the odds round after round and good fortune in the draw can only take you soo far.

I definitely think it likely Seles would win one, maybe two, but no more. Graf, then the Williams Sisters will see to that. Seles was never going to have a grass game at their level. She never felt secure in her movement on grass and I don't think that really leaves you for very long in that particular two week tournament, no matter how much you practice. British dampness and rain exacerbates this nagging periodic obstacle between players like Lendl and Seles and a lot of Centre court glory.
That's a good analyis. I think that she could have won two Wimbledons, but likely not more than that.
 

BTURNER

Legend
That's a good analyis. I think that she could have won two Wimbledons, but likely not more than that.
That relative inexperience in youth on grass or clay for that matter, is very telling in movement, I think. You just cannot make up for that lack of confidence- building experience, later on, in your twenties and thirties on a given surface. Despite their multiple similarities as champions, Evert was bound to be much more consistent on grass than Seles would have , despite the deeper grass court expertise of her era, because she was provided so many more opportunities to play on it when young. From 1971, through the end of 1974 at age 19, she had played 22 events including team play, on grass including eight slams. Compare that with Seles! Chris was very lucky to start touring in the early seventies.
 
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BringBackWood

Professional
Seles was never 'in shape' post stabbing. Only varying degrees of unfitness. With two hands on both sides you really need to be in at least decent shape. Just shows the quality of her hitting that she was able to have a good career even while battling the bulge.
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
Seles' mental toughness in 1993 was incredible. Here's her breakdown of matches when she won the first set and when she lost the first set. I'm going to exclude the match in which she got stabbed.

Seles won the first set in 14 of her matches that year. She won following set in those matches 13 times. In those 2nd sets that she won, she lost only 19 games, which includes 4 bagels and a bread stick. In the one other match where she lost the 2nd set after winning the first set, the score line was 6-2, 6-7, 6-0.

Giving Seles a lead was fatal. She was 14-0 after winning the first set, which includes 13 straight set blowouts.

She lost the first set 4 times, yet went 3-1 in those matches. That's remarkable. Her only loss was to Martina. 3-6, 6-4, 6-7.

Here's the 3 that she won after losing the first set:
4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Graf
4-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over Schultz
3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Martina

1993: 17-1 record with her only loss being a 3rd set tiebreaker loss to Martina.

Seles wasn't your typical teenage sensation that got caught up in her early success, then later flamed out. She was constantly improving, especially her serve(added 10+ mph during the past year) and her return of serve. Her mental toughness was incredible in 1993 as well. As a case in point, she allowed only 1 ace to Steffi in the AO final. That's incredible. Seles out-aced Steffi 7-1 in that match. In the semis, she allowed 0 aces to Sabatini. Unfortunately, I cannot find any other stats. But allowing a total of 1 ace to Steffi and Sabatini combined the semis and final of the 1993 AO is absurd.
Really good post. Greatly enjoyed reading.

I recall reading that when Evert won the first set she rarely lost the match - over her whole career.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
I just rewatched the entire1993 AO final, along with some other videos that had pre-match predictions, and a post-match analysis.

Most of the experts predicted that Monica would win. After Monica won, people believed that Steffi would need to change her game to get past Seles. At the end of 1992, Martina said, “If I played my best best tennis and Monica played her best, she would win.”

Martina’s respect for Monica was established well before the stabbing. This is a massive testament by an ATG.

And lastly, one expert pointed out something that I found impressive. He said that defending a slam title is very tough to do. But after Monica won the 1993 AO, she became the 3-time defending champ at the AO, 3-time defending champ at the FO, and the 2-time defending champ at the USO, all at the age of 19.

Seles had just won 7 out out of the past 9 slam titles while compiling a 55-1 record along the way(misses 1991 grass season) And she was getting more dominant along the way. She didn’t drop a set at the 1992 USO. The 1993 AO final was a pretty good beat down of Steffi, despite the 3 set match. In the last two sets, Steff’s Serve was broken 4 times to Seles’ 0. Seles’ serves were now about 5 mph faster than Steffi’s.

Heading into the 1993 AO final, Steffi won every single set. Monica dropped one set along the way. But the set was a lost tiebreaker, followed up with a bagel for the win. Through the semis, Seles had dished out a bakery product in every single match(4 bagels and 3 bread sticks).

It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see the Graf/Seles rivalry play out. Maybe Graf would have made some adjustments to her game to become even better, followed by adjustments from Monica to balance things out. Nobody knows what would have happened. All we know after this match is that Seles had just trimmed Steffi’s lead to 11-8, despite the 4 1/2 year age gap.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
I just rewatched the entire1993 AO final, along with some other videos that had pre-match predictions, and a post-match analysis.

Most of the experts predicted that Monica would win. After Monica won, people believed that Steffi would need to change her game to get past Seles. At the end of 1992, Martina said, “If I played my best best tennis and Monica played her best, she would win.”

Martina’s respect for Monica was established well before the stabbing. This is a massive testament by an ATG.

And lastly, one expert pointed out something that I found impressive. He said that defending a slam title is very tough to do. But after Monica won the 1993 AO, she became the 3-time defending champ at the AO, 3-time defending champ at the FO, and the 2-time defending champ at the USO, all at the age of 19.

Seles had just won 7 out out of the past 9 slam titles while compiling a 55-1 record along the way(misses 1991 grass season) And she was getting more dominant along the way. She didn’t drop a set at the 1992 USO. The 1993 AO final was a pretty good beat down of Steffi, despite the 3 set match. In the last two sets, Steff’s Serve was broken 4 times to Seles’ 0. Seles’ serves were now about 5 mph faster than Steffi’s.

Heading into the 1993 AO final, Steffi won every single set. Monica dropped one set along the way. But the set was a lost tiebreaker, followed up with a bagel for the win. Through the semis, Seles had dished out a bakery product in every single match(4 bagels and 3 bread sticks).

It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see the Graf/Seles rivalry play out. Maybe Graf would have made some adjustments to her game to become even better, followed by adjustments from Monica to balance things out. Nobody knows what would have happened. All we know after this match is that Seles had just trimmed Steffi’s lead to 11-8, despite the 4 1/2 year age gap.
Yeah, those 1993-1995 matches would have been great - see how they push each other, how they adjust. Monica was still great when she returned, but it just wasn't the same. Not sure Steffi had to make changes to her game. Peak Monica could legitimately get Graf on her heels and get her pressing a bit, but Monica had to play well to do that. It's like any matchup between two great players - depends on the day. A different day, you might think Monica had to change her game just a bit. I will say, she picked up that Graf slice really well (at least on hard and clay). I love seeing Graf hit her very intermittent top spin backhands.
 
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some overall hi-quality 'clean hitting' as far as WTA slugfests go...


dedicated to @TMF, Jimmy Durante and all those tennis-loving toucans out there on this, the eve of the U.S. Open
 
Reading through this thread makes me think of Hingis some more too. She is a big enigma from that period, almost as big of one as Seles. 3 slams as a 16 year old, 5 slams at age 18, retired at 21 still with only 5 slams. No stabbing or serious injury ala Austin to explain it though.

The Round of 16 meeting of Hingis and Seles at the 2002 U.S Open was a strange feeling. Both had been reduced to such bit players, hence meeting in the round of 16, with the Williams now the dominant players of the sport. The match was basically just a contest to see who would probably get bullied off the court by Venus in roughly an hour in the quarters. It was just such a strange feeling how far and seemingly fast both had fallen from being dominant.
 

Poisoned Slice

Bionic Poster
Can remember the sky commercial

Seles is back. And she's winning! I dunno, she did make a good start to her comeback. Then it became clear she was not the same. Fair play to her for even coming back.

Random memory. Over at my cousin house one night when I was a kid. They were both playing tennis in the street with some other guy. The street playing days. When the ball went flying down the road and you had to chase it. Kept you fit enough anyway. What I remember most is one cousin said he was Boris Becker, the oldest cousin said Monica Seles.
 
That's a good analyis. I think that she could have won two Wimbledons, but likely not more than that.
I honestly think she would do well to win 1 Wimbledon. The only year I think she had a shot of winning is 94. As for the other years.

93- Doubt she can beat Graf or Novotna, let alone both as she probably has to. Navratilova, Sabatini, and Capriati are also legit threats to beat her if she plays any of those.

95 or 96- Highly doubt she can beat Graf, and Sanchez (I know she owns her but this is grass where she only played Sanchez once, over the hill Sanchez in 2000), Date, Novotna, Martinez (same as Sanchez), Pierce, are also threats to beat her if they play her.

97- Doubt she can beat Hingis or Novotna, let alone both. Even less likely as this was the period her father was ill and she was big as an elephant.

98- Doubt she can beat Novotna, and Venus, Davenport, Graf, Hingis, Spirlea, and others can all take her out of the draw.

99 and beyond- LOL

And even in 94 if you think Seles would still be #1 ranked then Graf isnt seeded #1 and never plays McNeil 1st round to lose. And if you still have Graf losing to McNeil it means you are saying Graf would have been #1 over Seles at that point, as that is the only way that 1st round still occurs. And of course if Graf does not go out 1st round Seles's chances go way down, and like every other year there are numerous potential people to take her out of the draw- Garrison, McNeil, Davenport, Navratilova, Novotna, Martinez, Neiland. Not all of them likely to, but all with atleast an outside shot.
 
We didn’t get to see Seles’ peak for a whole year. That is what I am getting at. Seles’ serve improved immensely during the last half of 1992 and early 1993 and the announcers mentioned it a lot. From early 1992 to early 1993, she added at over 10 mph to her serve. By early 1993, Seles’ serves were hitting 106-107 mph, which has very good back then. 12 months earlier, she was serving in the low-to-mid 90’s. In 1993, her serves had already become a weapon, which was a very scary thought.

Back then, the big question a lot of us had is his how she would do at Wimbledon in 1993. In 1992, she reached her first final at age 18 by beating Martina in the semis. She was nervous in that final and she lacked the experience to deal with Steffi’s slice back hand. But in 1993, her serve was much better and return of serve were much better.

I watched the 1992 USO. Seles’ played the best tennis of her career up to that point. She was a wrecking ball. Her dominance carried over to the 1993 AO. Another thing that raised some eyebrows was Seles’ return of serve in 1993. If I remember correctly, Graf only hit 1 ace against Seles in the 1993 AO final. Given Graf’s strong serve, that feat was nearly impossible. Steffi somehow stole a set in that AO final. But she was outplayed badly overall in that match. Seles picked on that backhand until she got an opening to hit a winner.

I am not claiming that Seles would have won 20 slams, or anything like that. But I am saying that her level during the last 6 months of her pre-stabbing career was much higher than ever before, due to a substantially beefed up serve and a better return of serve. This was quite evident for anybody that watched her matches at that time. She was still green on grass, although she had improved a ton there as well. It’s too bad that her last grass matches during her pre-stabbing career were played at age 18.
One thing I need to point out is while Seles certainly might have improved more, it is by no means a foregone conclusion she does just because she was 19. There are MANY great players in womens tennis who stopped improving at 19, or many cases younger than 19, some of them even declining at that point:

Goolagong
Austin
Mandlikova
Graf
Connolly (ok unique case for her, just like Seles)
Sharapova
Hingis (probably the most obvious and blatant example of all)

Just for starters off the top of my head. A player does not automatically have lots of improvement left just for being 19. As I mentioned Steffi Graf herself did not ever rise above her playing level of 19 and younger, she hit her peak in 88-89 probably, and not only did not rise further above it, but greatly declined from that in 90 and 91, and only maybe finally reaching it again 95-96 (mostly just 96).
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
One thing I need to point out is while Seles certainly might have improved more, it is by no means a foregone conclusion she does just because she was 19. There are MANY great players in womens tennis who stopped improving at 19, or many cases younger than 19, some of them even declining at that point:

Goolagong
Austin
Mandlikova
Graf
Connolly (ok unique case for her, just like Seles)
Sharapova
Hingis (probably the most obvious and blatant example of all)

Just for starters off the top of my head. A player does not automatically have lots of improvement left just for being 19. As I mentioned Steffi Graf herself did not ever rise above her playing level of 19 and younger, she hit her peak in 88-89 probably, and not only did not rise further above it, but greatly declined from that in 90 and 91, and only maybe finally reaching it again 95-96 (mostly just 96).
Agreed. There are never any guarantees. What’s different about Seles is that Seles was improving right up to her stabbing. She significantly beefed up her serves during her last year. Her return got better too. She never had a full season at her new peak. Her peak was from the last half of 1992 to the first quarter of 1993. 1993 appeared to be the first full season that all of her weapons would have been on display.

But nothing is guaranteed. It’s possible that she could have blown out her knee on a freak play later that year. And that’s why I cannot add slam titles to her tally. Buts she’s a massive case of woulda coulda shoulda.

She’s unique. She was getting a ton of attention. One expert said that her record of 8 slams prior to turning 20 was amazing. And she still had 3 tourneys to play as a teenager to extend her record.

But quite honestly, I am not sure if she was necessarily the best teenage player ever. I give a huge amount of credit fo Steffi for completing the CYGS in 1988. I followed her a lot that year. She spoke about how she was a nervous wreck, even decades later. The amount of pressure to achieve the holy grail of tennis is incredible. Laver spoke about it too. Serena was incredibly close in 2015 and we saw her fold like cheap tent to a scrub in the semis. That scrub later got destroyed in the final.
 
Agreed. There are never any guarantees. What’s different about Seles is that Seles was improving right up to her stabbing. She significantly beefed up her serves during her last year. Her return got better too. She never had a full season at her new peak. Her peak was from the last half of 1992 to the first quarter of 1993. 1993 appeared to be the first full season that all of her weapons would have been on display.

But nothing is guaranteed. It’s possible that she could have blown out her knee on a freak play later that year. And that’s why I cannot add slam titles to her tally. Buts she’s a massive case of woulda coulda shoulda.

She’s unique. She was getting a ton of attention. One expert said that her record of 8 slams prior to turning 20 was amazing. And she still had 3 tourneys to play as a teenager to extend her record.

But quite honestly, I am not sure if she was necessarily the best teenage player ever. I give a huge amount of credit fo Steffi for completing the CYGS in 1988. I followed her a lot that year. She spoke about how she was a nervous wreck, even decades later. The amount of pressure to achieve the holy grail of tennis is incredible. Laver spoke about it too. Serena was incredibly close in 2015 and we saw her fold like cheap tent to a scrub in the semis. That scrub later got destroyed in the final.
Fair enough. And I agree Seles was improving the 10 months prior to the stabbing which might have been a good foreshadowing for her. Still the future from that point onwards is still unpredictable for many reasons. The only safe bet is Seles wins more slams, probably a bare minimum of atleast 5 more, but beyond that everything is a guess, including future improvements, since as I said many great players did not improve after 19, including Graf herself.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
Fair enough. And I agree Seles was improving the 10 months prior to the stabbing which might have been a good foreshadowing for her. Still the future from that point onwards is still unpredictable for many reasons. The only safe bet is Seles wins more slams, probably a bare minimum of atleast 5 more, but beyond that everything is a guess, including future improvements, since as I said many great players did not improve after 19, including Graf herself.
Agreed. We are basically on the same page. Good posts amigo.
 
I used to be a Seles fan but since the stabbing I have found myself liking her less and less. Her fans are unbearable these days, and she seems to be made into a martyr and elevated to artififical statuses she does not really deserve in many venues.
 
As for her best chances at slams post stabbing clearly the 98 French with the 95 U.S Open a close second.

I guess the 97 French was a chance but I wouldn't say super likely. She had hard wins over both Pierce and Fernandez, especialy Fernandez where she was down 5-4. She then lost a tough match to Hingis. Even if she won that she would have had a tough final vs an on fire Majoli. Add to all that she was badly out of shape probably since her Dad was very sick, and she would have had a hard time surviving those 4 tough rounds in a row to win.

Maybe the 99 French but beating Graf and Hingis back to back would be a tough ask, and as it happened she didn't even complete the first step.
 
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