WTA Greatest Rivalries – Graf vs. Seles

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

WTA Greatest Rivalries – Graf vs. Seles

Monica Seles began her Grand Slam dominance over the WTA in 1990 by becoming the youngest ever Grand Slam Champion and winning the French Open. However, in 1990 it was Steffi Graf that dominated the field, but not if Monica Seles had anything to say about it. Seles and Graf’s career intersected throughout the 90s, and although Graf holds a 10 to 5 edge, in Grand Slams, it was only a 6-4 edge. Unfortunately for Seles, this rivalry was cut short due to a crazed Steffi Graf fan stabbing Seles at the 1993 German Open. Seles had won eight Grand Slams in three years before that incident and would only win one more after an almost three-year hiatus. 


Unfortunate as it was, Seles managed to still have a brilliant career, and part of that brilliant career has due to her incredible matches with Steffi Graf. In all they met in six Grand Slam finals, with Graf winning three and Seles three. Seles was able to dominate Graf at the French and Australian Open, whereas Steffi got the better of Seles at Wimbledon and the US Open. 

What was great about this rivalry was the difference in playing styles between Graf and Seles. Seles hit two handed from both wings and was unpredictable in her baseline play. She would take her opponent by surprise by hitting winners from neutral positions. Graf was a bit more strategic in her approach and was always looking to set up that massive forehand for a winner. 


From a serve standpoint, Graf had the better serve and a formidable slice backhand, which allowed her to easily beat Seles in their two Wimbledon meetings. Seles won just four games in those two meetings, the first being at the 1989 Wimbledon where Seles lost 0-6, 1-6 and the second being the Wimbledon 1992 Final, with Seles losing 2-6, 2-6. Other than the total domination at Wimbledon, the rest of the surfaces proved to be very competitive for both these amazing champions. I for one would love to see another player come out with two handers on both wings! 


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