Sabatini, Novotna, Martinez. Who is regarded as the best singles player of these?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by KingCobra76, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. KingCobra76

    KingCobra76 New User

    Nov 9, 2007
    Im interested to hear other peoples views on who is regarded as the best singles player of these three as they all won just one grand slam, reached the finals of two others (novotna - three others) and had pretty similar careers.
    My personal opinion would be:

    1. Gabriela Sabatini
    2. Jana Novotna
    3. Conchita Martinez

    My reasons for this are both Sabatini and Novotna won Year end championships (Sabatini twice) and had better records against the top players than Martinez did.

    Interested to hear all opinions though
  2. jmsx521

    jmsx521 Hall of Fame

    Aug 29, 2006
    I'd put Novotna above the two others. She was like a slightly unpolished version of Navratilova.
  3. galain

    galain Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    I think Gabi is the more highly regarded of the trio - she was always in the running to be a threat, if not an outright contender.

    Jana had the game - probably the most gifted of the three - but she was always seen to be a bit flakey.

    Martinez - a grind em up topspinning junkballer, with a Wimby title.
  4. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

    Mar 5, 2007
    NJ, USA
    I'd have to go with Sabatini as well. She had the best career of the three, was most consistently a threat and could beat anyone if she was on. Novotna was very talented but was too mentally fragile and Martinez was the least talented of the three and got lucky to win her Wimbledon title.


    Apr 6, 2007
    I have to admit, I have never seen Sabatini play before, but the attacking game of Novotna minus the mental breaks would put her above in these three.
  6. navratilovafan

    navratilovafan Banned

    Apr 14, 2007
    Sabatini should definitely be on top. She was the 3rd best player in the World behind Graf and Navratilova in 88 and 89, and arguably Grafs closest rival since unlike Martina those years she did beat Graf several times. She was the 3rd best player in the World behind Seles and Graf in 91 and 92. She was a major threat on all surfaces. She won so many tier 1 titles on clay but still couldnt make it past the semis of the French for some reason. She should have won Wimbledon in 91 were she was 2 points away and a babied volley she should have put away in the final vs Graf cost her the title. She did win the U.S Open in 1990 and was runner up there in 88. She won the year end Championships twice indoors, and lost an incredible 5 set final to Seles there another year. She retired at only 26, albeit she appeared to be on sharp decline by that point, and still managed 27 singles titles.

    Novotna was very good and consistent high ranked too, but she was only a top 3 player in the World two years late in her career, 1997 and 1998, so not nearly as long as Sabatini was. Novotna does not as regular a major threat over all 3 surfaces as Sabatini, more leaning towards being her biggest threat on grass and indoors. She was a threat on hard courts and clay, but wasnt taken nearly as seriously as a possible winner of slams on those surfaces as Sabatini was on all surfaces.

    I agree Martinez is definitely last. The French Open is the one she should have won if she was ever going to win one, she probably should have won the 95 French were she had that long match win streak going in, Graf was short in match play going into the French, and Sanchez was in a mini slump, and she still screwed it by a triple choke in the semis vs Graf. She didnt even make the finals of the French, her best slam to win, until near the end of her career in 2000. She wasnt that strong on hard courts, and grass I just dont understand how she won Wimbledon at all. There is nothing about her game that should work on grass, it is just crazy, she is lucky Graf lost in a huge upset that year, that Sanchez Vicario was in her grass if for the cows mode, that Novotna was still exercising mental demons from Wimbledon 93, that Sabatini was in a huge slump, Davenport was still grossly overweight at that point, that Navratilova was almost 40, and most of the rest of the field just sucked that year.
  7. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

    Aug 27, 2005
    Sabatini, no doubt in my mind. Very good game, mental game was not that good. But tenniswise, she is a bigger talent than Graf and Seles. She is more like Navratilova, they both had all the shots. She is the player Graf had the most trouble with during the 90s. Graf and Seles were just tougher opponents. Novotna and Martinez are not in the same class. Both could not really bother Graf, Sabatini could.
  8. KingCobra76

    KingCobra76 New User

    Nov 9, 2007
    I couldnt agree more, Martinez winning Wimbledon in 94 is one of the biggest mysteries of modern tennis. She got UNBELIEVEBLY LUCKY that year.
  9. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

    Feb 2, 2007
    Look, Martinez isn't going to go down as one of the greatest, and I'd put her below Sabatini and maybe below Novatna (though I can't decide right now), but she deserves a LOT of credit. Around 35 tour wins on all surfaces, beat all the top players, 3 Slam finals (at 3 different slams), at least the SFs of all slams, and a lot of other QFs in Slams, member of winning Fed Cup teams.

    She was "lucky" to win Wimbledon because Graf was upset that year, but watch the matches - she won them. I remember the final against Navratilova - passing shot, after passing shot, after passing shot. She played well. Sandwiched around that Wimby win in 1994, she was in the SFs in 1993 and 1995, hardly a one-hit wonder on grass.

    In her prime (mid 90s), she had amazing variety of slices and spins and could really frustrate her opponent. I remember the 1998 AO semi against Davenport where she would hit low slice then looping topspin, then occasionally a hard flat shot. Davenport was reaching up and down and around and was so frustrated sincce she's a rythmic player.

    Martinez could be agressive and could hit penetrating shots off off both sides to go along with her loopy, spinny stuff.

    I felt that in the last third of ther career, she abandoned her sometimes agressiveness and bigger shots and became purely a spinny junkballer. I always thought she was being too "cute." She should have gone or more at times like she used to.

    That abbeviated service motion was ugly, but confused a lot of players.

    Anyway, Martinez isn't even one of my favorite players, but I always enjoyed watching her play.
  10. Tshooter

    Tshooter Hall of Fame

    Sep 12, 2007
    Without a doubt GS.
  11. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Hall of Fame

    Aug 12, 2007
    The Future
    Sabatini was amazing off the ground; she had brilliant groundstrokes with variety. She was also very athletic at the net with nice volleys. She always had a suspect serve controlled by spin, but eventually lost her toss like Kournikova and Dementieva.

    Novotna had a solid serve-and-volley, but a mass of nerves. Could she play her game today?

    Conchita would mix those looping topspins and wicked slices and drive her opponents crazy. In practice, her spins were amazing.

    All three were great players, but Sabatini was definitely the best.
  12. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

    Apr 4, 2007
    I'd go with Gaby and then Jana. Gaby challenged for the top from 1987-1992, which is a time where she had to play against Martina, Chris, Steffi, Hana, and then Monica. That's a far tougher field at the top than what either Jana or Conchi faced at their peak. Gaby had a horrible record vs. those players at grand slam tournemants, only have one win against those 5 players. But she had a better slam record then the other 2 did.

    I loved watching Jana play. And I was happy for her when she won her Wimbledon. But I always thought that her potential was overated. She had no topspin backhand. She's rather fortunate that she peaked at a time with so few netrushers around. Because the only way she could handle them was by dinking the ball low at their feet or lobbing over their head - both tactics that she did well. But she was way too predictable for the top players on that side. Jana wouldn't have won a slam had she peaked in the 80's.

    With Conchi, her win over Martina at Wimbledon in 1994 shouldn't be confused with a win over Martina in 1984. Although she did raise the level of her game in England, Martina played terribly throughout 1994 because she really had lost a couple of steps and her serve had almost no bite to it. She did give Steffi a tough 3 set match at the 1995 French. But the thumpings that she took against Steffi at the 1996 French and the 1995 and 1996 US Opens vs. Monica revealed a lot about her against top players on big occasions.
  13. lambielspins

    lambielspins Banned

    Aug 21, 2006
    Yeah but as others have said if she were any kind of champion she would have won that match and the French title that year. She was playing the tennis of her life, something like a 30 match win streak on clay, Graf had not even played a clay court tournament that year due to injury, and Sanchez Vicario had not won a title on clay that year so was obviosly off form. She found about 3 ways to choke that loss to Graf. Players like Mary Pierce, Gabriela Sabatini, or even Novotna (despite her choking tendencies) would have found a way to win a slam title if she were in that kind of form, on their favorite surface, and the other top players were that vurnerable.
  14. thalivest

    thalivest Banned

    Oct 25, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Conchita is by far the weakest. How do you compare them, how they did vs the best players.

    Sabatini atleast gave some mild competitition to Graf and Seles. She was 11-29 vs Graf, and 3-11 vs Seles. She beat Graf in her prime to win the U.S Open title, in the final. She took Graf to 3 sets in 3 of her other 4 meetings with her at the U.S Open, and the 4th she lost in a 2nd set tiebreak. She was thumped by Graf her final meeting at the French, when she was really past her prime anyway by then, but lost from 5-3 up in the 3rd set in the 1987 French Open semis, and lost in a 2nd set tiebreak in 1988. At Wimbledon she took Graf to 3 sets in 1987, was 2 points from winning the title over Graf in the final in 1991, and only in 1992 lost in straight sets.

    Sabatini was less of a challenge to Seles, but still comfortably straight setted her twice in the finals of the Italian Open, 1991 and 1992, in Seles prime. She was up 4-2 in the final set vs Seles in the semis of the 92 French before Seles came back. She took Seles to 5 sets in the final of the year end Championships, the unofficial 5th slam, in 1990.

    Novotna was 4-4 vs Seles. She did not beat Seles in her prime however, 1 win being over 15 year old Seles, however fast rising Seles was already ranked much higher then late blooming Novotna at the time of that match. Then her other 3 wins were post stabbing. However Seles owned players like Martinez and even Sanchez Vicario post-stabbing, but Jana was a personal nemisis, taking Seles out of the 96 French Open and 96 Olympics, and going 3-2 vs her overall. Jana managed to have that post-stabbing head to head with 3 of their 5 matches on clay, Jana's worst surface by far. In their pre-stabbing matches Jana was a challenge too, taking Seles to 3 sets in both the 1991 Australian Open final and their quarterfinal of the 1992 year end Championships. Against Graf, Jana was more futile, her final head to head with Graf was 4-29, however she still her some challenges from time to time. She took Graf out in the quarters of the 1991 Australian Open. She also took Graf out in the quarters of the 1991 year end Championships. She of course had her beat in that famous 1993 Wimbledon final before the famous collapse. She took her to 3 sets again in the 1995 Wimbledon semis.

    Martinez has never beaten Graf or Seles in a big match. She is 1-13 vs Graf and 1-20 vs Seles, even Jana's head to head vs Graf looks impressive by comparision. She has rarely pushed Graf or Seles in a big match either. The only time she gave either a close match in a big match was a 3 setter vs Graf in the 1995 French Open semis, and even that she was down 6-3, 4-1 at one point. Every other time she has played one in a grand slam, and there have been many times it was comfortable straight sets loss.
    Even though Conchita has reached 3 slam finals, similar to players like Sabatini, Novotna, telling point is what happened in her best year ever. 1995 was her best year ever, she won something like 7 titles that year, reached world #2, yet she lost in the semis of all 4 slams, semis of the Australian Open to Pierce, semis of the French Open to Graf, semis of Wimbledon to Sanchez Vicario, semis of the U.S Open to Seles. In her best year ever to go 0-4 in slam semis says alot about her as well.
  15. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

    Feb 2, 2007
    Great analysis. Now I'd definitely put Conchita below Novatna. I didn't realize that her record against Graf and Seles was so bad. Anyway, I still think Martinez was a great player. Not one of the "greats", but a solid (and sometimes spectacular) player that every generation has in order to fill in the spots just below the true "greats" from that generation.
  16. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

    Feb 2, 2007
    I loved watching all of them play. Sabatini's career is weird. She was so close so many times. She really could have 4 slams instead of 1. But, as always, would of, could of, should of, gets us nowhere.
  17. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

    Feb 18, 2005

    That would be my order too for the reasons already listed. I skimmed the tread but didn't see the h2h's of the three listed, which were:

    Sabatini v. Novotna 10-3

    Sabatini v. Martinez 9-6

    Novotna v. Martinez 4-1

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