Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Year Two 17 Year Olds Ruled The French Open

In 1989, both the Singles events at Roland Garros experienced tremendous upsets. In the men's event, a seventeen year old Asian American, Michael Chang, triumphed after several dramatic matches. Meanwhile, the seventeen year old Spanish player, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, had a huge victory.

These two players had similar styles of playing; defensive baseliners who fought to the bitter end.

In the men's event, the 15th seeded player Michael Chang had an eventful five set thriller against the world number one, Ivan Lendl. Ivan was leading 2 sets to love when Chang started to make a huge comeback. The match was exhausting and Chang experienced cramp. He resorted to underhand serves, which totally shocked Lendl.

Chang won in five sets and in a very memorable and emotional match. He faced Stefan Edberg in the final, who he won in an exhausting final. Michael Chang overcame the most powerful baseliners of the era in a truly great match and proceeded to beat one of the best serve volleyers of all time. This was truly a French Open to remember.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario had no significant wins prior to the final. However, in the final she faced the world number one, Steffi Graf, who had totally dominated the game. Few of the top players could evenm challenge Graf, she had only lost one match all year. However, Arantxa played defensive and consistent tennis to grind out a three set victory.
Image courtesy of James M Phelps from flickr.com

Friday, 4 January 2013

Best Womens Tennis Players of the 1980s

The 1980s was a golden era in Women's tennis which was dominated primarily by the great sporting rivalry of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Although at the beginning of the decade, Tracey Austin also contended for the number 1 ranking, Meanwhile, from mid-1987 Steffi Graf's era became dominant.

1. Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova finished the World number 1 between 1982 and 1986. During the 1980s she won a total of 15 Grand Slams. In particular, she was most dominant on grass with six consecutive Wimbledon Championships. Elsewhere, she won four US Opens (1983-84 and 1986-87), three Australian Opens (1981,83 and 85) and two French Opens (1982 and 84). Her powerful serve and volley game was most successful on faster surfaces, but she managed to develop her baseline game with a new topspin backhand and she also took the level of fitness in women's tennis to a new level.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the above Image

2. Chris Evert

During the 1980s, Chris finished World Number 1 in 1980 and 1981 and she competed for the number 1 positions with Martina Navratilova in both 1982 and 1985. She won a total of 9 Grand Slams (4 French Opens, 2 US Opens, 2 Australian Opens and 1 Wimbledon). Here stats are very close to Steffi Graf, but she was consistently ranked 1 or 2 for the majority of the decade, so she was awarded number 2 due to her longevity.

After being the most dominant player of the seventies, she was seemingly surpassed by Navratilova. However, hard work on her athleticism and attacking game enabled her to come back and challenge Martina in 1985 and 1986.

3. Steffi Graf

Steffi was one of the most dominant players of all-time. In the 1980s, she won 8 Grand Slams (2 Wimbledons, 2 US Opens, 2 Australian Opens and 2 French Opens). Here dominance continued into the 90s, when she was the player of the decade in our opinion. Her supreme athleticism, powerful serve and huge forehand ensured that she dominated the 1988 and 1989 seasons only failing to win one Grand Slam.

4. Hana Mandlikova

Throughout much of the 1980s, Hana offered the only competition to Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. She was always a danger with her athletic all court game. She possessed powerful serves, finesse volleys and a dangerous forehand. She won 4 Grand Slams; the 1980 Australian Open, 1981 French Open (upsetting Chris Evert on her beloved clay), 1985 US Open (beating Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in the Semi and Final) and the 1987 Australian Open (over Martina at the last grass court tournament to be held there).

5. Tracey Austin

Tracey retired in 1984, but her success in the early years gives her the number 5 ranking. Graf, Evert, Navratilova and Austin were the only players ranked number 1. She also won the 1981 US Open. She possessed excellent groundstrokes and challenged Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for the top spot in 1980 and 1981. Her footspeed and fighting spirit made her a great competitor.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Biggest Upset in Womens Tennis

During the early years of Open Era tennis, women's tennis was dominated by key top players. Only in recent times, is women's tennis gained significant depth and we have numerous different Grand Slam champions or number ones. Therefore, the sport's upset are very significant when they occur. Here are some of the biggest upsets:

1. 1994 Wimbledon - Steffi Graf vs Lori McNeil

Steffi Graf was a three time defending champion, who had one 5 of the last 6 Wimbledons. She was the world number 1 and at the age of 25 she was already an all-time great. Generally, Steffi losing in Semi Finals was a shock at this stage, but in 1994 she fell in the first round.

This was huge shock, although she was unlucky to draw a grass court specialist Top 20 player. Lori McNeil had even beaten Steffi a couple of years before and her aggressive style of play was perfect for Wimbledon. Indeed, many people felt that Lori was the most dangerous floater, but surely not to beat Steffi Graf.

However, after a very close and exciting two set battle. Lori was victorious 7-5 7-6 and the top seed and defending champion was sent home.

2. 1999 Wimbledon - Martina Hingis vs Jelena Dokic

Martina Hingis, the 1997 Champion, was beaten comprehensively by Jelena Dokic. After a tense and emotional defeat at the hands of the Veteran, Steffi Graf, at Roland Garros, Hingis was handed a huge upset.

However, Jelena Dokic again was a very tough draw, she was one of the most promising players on the tour and soon to be a consistent Top 10 player herself.

3. 2012 Roland Garros - Serena Williams vs Virginie Razzano

Serena may not have had the consistent dominance of Graf, but when she is playing her best few of her counterparts can challenge her. In the Summer of 2012, Serena had started to show to dominance that she would continue as swept to a 5th Wimbledon, 1st US Open, Season Ending Championships and Olympic Gold Medal. She had trounced all opposition at Charleston, including Sam Stosur (her conqueror in the 2011 US Open Final). Then in Madrid, she beat Wozniacki, Azarenka and Sharapova.

Pundits were listing Serena as the overwhelming favourite in Paris, despite her last championship being ten years ago, in 2002.

The first round against Virginie Razzano was expected to be very one-sided, but it end with Razzano the victor in three sets.

Other Matches

There are other great upsets including: Kathy Horvath's win over Martina Navratilova at the 1984 French Open, Kathy Jordan beating Chris Evert at the 1983 Wimbledon title and Tatiana Garbin's victory over Justine Henin at the 2004 Roland Garros. Of course there have been numerous more, but I have selected these due to their drama.