- 11/01/2010, 11:45PM ET
YODA said 11/01, 11:45 PM
A great sports rivalry needs elite participants, good storylines, high stakes, and multiple showdowns on the sport's biggest stage(s).
The greatest rivalry in tennis history is:
Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova
"Chrissy" Evert was an American media darling.
Navratilova was a defector from (what was then) communist Czechoslovakia. She was also more (ahem) closeted about her private life.
On the court, Evert was lauded for her classic strokes and calm demeanor.
Navratilova instead brought an intense mix of athleticism and tenacity, attacking every point and letting her emotions show at the end of rallies (yells, fist pumps, etc.)
In the 70s and 80s, Evert had an astounding Win-Loss record (singles) of 1309 to just 146. (90%!). She won 157 tourneys and 18 Grand Slam tourneys.
Her nememis, Navratilova, ended her career with a similarly stunning W-L of 1442 to 219 (86.8%), 167 tourneys, and 18 Slams.
They faced off 80 times during their 15 yr rivalry (Martina holds the 43-37 edge).
61 of those occasions were in tourney finals (14 in Slam Finals).
They leapfrogged each other for the #1 ranking several times in the process.
Good luck, Chosen1.
Chosen1 said 11/02, 08:57 PM
One of my big problems with your rivalry is that as many matches as they had there was never really that back and forth win loss thing between them
In the first 30 matches Chris Evert had 23 wins and only 7 losses
In the next 50 matches Chris Evert had only 14 wins and 36 losses
I will come back to your pick later though.....
My pick is Bjorn Borg vs John McEnroe
These two may not have the number of matches of your rivalry but they more than matched your rivalry in excitement.
Borg with his cool and collected personality and John McEnroe with his fiery media attention grabbing tantrums were complete opposites making them the perfect rivals.
Sure they may have only given us 14 matches but in that short feud came probably the greatest match of all time the 1980 Wimbledon's Final.
These two guys rivalry did more for the popularity of the sport and had a bigger impact than your rivalry ever did.....
Well anyways Im swamped with projects so I will cut this short
YODA said 11/02, 10:50 PM
Sorry to hear you're swamped, Chosen1.
First, I'll address your concern about "no back and forth".
There was no handover as you're implying. The #1 rank (and year-end rank) went back and forth 5 times.
Also, even late in their careers, Evert remained the fave on clay while Martina (and her serve/volley style) ruled on grass.
You put forth that a rivalry's "impact" on the sport's popularity is a key component of greatness. That seems fine, but the correct choice is certainly still on the women's side...
MacEnroe was already a huge draw in the U.S. And Borg, "cool and collected" as he was, retired early at 26.
You even dubbed your choice a "short feud". And in many ways it was. The rivalry lasted just a little over 3 yrs. Actually, many consider Jimmy Connors to be McEnroe's true career rival. Those TWO short-tempers on the court...Fireworks!).
Evert and Navratilova brought the best out in each other in an astonishing 61 Finals, and fans took notice.
WTA tour attendance and weekend TV ratings exploded, ushering in modern womens' tennis where compensation (salary and endorsements) approaches (and even surpasses in some cases) the men's side.
Chosen1 said 11/03, 10:52 PM
Back and forth in actual matches against each other is completely different than back and forth in the rankings......
To me ranking only go so far because eventually it all comes back to can you beat me though?
In head to head matches it was a pretty predictable rivalry. You can say oh well Evert was still a favorite on clay late in the rivalry but that dont change the fact she was 14 and 36 in the last 50 matches vs Martina. Evidentally they didnt play on clay enough for her....
You talk about bringing the best out of each other well the same can definitely be said about Borg vs McEnroe.... What do you call a 22 minute fourth set tie breaker in the Wimbledon Finals?
You want story lines? What do you call McEnroe in 1981 ending Borg's consecutive reign of 5 consecutive Wimbledon Championships?
You want to talk about ratings? Millions and millions of fans all around the word watched Borg vs McEnroe in the 1980 Wimbledon Finals. Heck the match was so big that even Nelson Mandela heard the match and he was imprisoned at the time.
Look at most lists, ask most people and Borg vs McEnroe is the first rivalry that comes to mind.
YODA said 11/04, 01:36 AM
I don't understand that first bit of your arg, but I see your comments that you're pressed for time. I get it. Life comes before TDs.
(Ha - But come on, white space is better than vague throwaway lines like "look at most lists" and "ask most people". Our job as TDers is to do that analysis).
You used bold font in attempt to devalue the women's rivarly based arbitrarily on their last 50 matches.
First, Navratilova is the greatest female player of alltime...and Evert still beat her 37 times.
Second, what I see there prominently is FIFTY. Their last 50 matches...Crazy. They reigned over the sport.
Your '81 storyline? It didn't help the rivalry. In fact, it helped kill it. Borg was living a bit of a playboy lifestyle on the tour and had started to publicly express apathy towards training and tourneys. He said the '81 loss made it easier to walk away from the game. This destroyed any chance for a rivalry to truly boil over with McEnroe.
Your guys only met in GS Finals 4 total times in their careers (2 Wimbledon, 2 U.S. Open). The ladies squared off multiple times at all Slams on all surfaces.
I won't even get into doubles action.
Chosen1 said 11/05, 01:13 AM
Not really sure how you dont understand the first bit......
I was simply saying that to me rankings are only one part of a rivalry but when a person goes 14 and 36 the rivalry gets a little less interesting....
Between 1982 and 1985 there was a stretch where Martina won 16 straight vs Evert
The length of the rivalry pretty much made it a predictable one
Evert did better head to head to start but Martina pretty much owned the last 10 years or so of the rivalry when it came to head to head matches.
Pretty much your argument is they played more times.....
Ratings, intensity, media coverage and all goes to my rivalry...
My rivalry produced either the number one or two greatest match in the opinion of most people something your rivalry never did....
Well it was interesting.... Admittedly I BS'd my way through this one.... I dont know the topic, dont have the time to learn the topic and dont care to know the topic
You deserve the win congrats
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