American tennis legend Chris Evert has reflected on her historic 125-match win streak on clay, which came to an end in 1979 with a semifinal loss to compatriot Tracy Austin at the Italian Open. Evert’s run on clay began in the summer of 1973 and lasted nearly six years, leading many to believe that the former World No. 1 was unbeatable on clay. To date, her 125-match unbeaten streak on clay remains the longest-ever win streak on any surface in tennis. However, 16-year-old Tracy Austin played fearlessly and defeated the ‘Queen of Clay’ on her best surface in a thrilling three-setter 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 in Rome. Chris Evert led 4-2 in the third set before the youngster mounted a comeback to win it 7-6.
Recalling the experience, Chris Evert admitted that it was a tough loss to bear for her. However, the 68-year-old was glad her streak ended against a great competitor like Austin. The American also acknowledged that it was “inevitable” that she would lose at some point. “I’ll never forget that 1979 Rome match. After winning 125 matches on clay, my best surface, it was only inevitable that I was going to lose at some point,” said Evert. “It was a tough loss for me, but looking back, I’m glad it was against Tracy Austin, who was a great competitor.”
Tracy Austin also recalled the match and declared that the key to her confidence was simply being unaware of Evert’s record on clay. “I didn’t know her record. That, I think, was extremely helpful because she had not lost since the summer of 1973,” said the youngest-ever US Open champion.
Coming to the present day, 18-time Grand Slam winner Chris Evert is mighty impressed with 2-time French Open champion Iga Swiatek’s current form. The former World no. 1 believes the current No. 1 is “fully prepared” to defend her French Open title this year. “She (Iga Swiatek) is fully prepared; clay is her best surface,” said Chris Evert. “She has both a great defense and a great offensive arsenal, she takes the ball out of your hand and takes control of every exchange by moving so well and hitting early.”
At the same time, the 68-year-old added that Aryna Sabalenka is in great form to challenge Iga Swiatek for the Roland Garros title. The current No. 1 and 2 have faced each other in back-to-back finals on clay in recent weeks — at the Stuttgart Open and Madrid Open, winning one final apiece. Seven-time French Open champion Evert also felt that Swiatek should improve on her serve and that someone like Sabalenka could beat her if they take advantage of the same.
Chris Evert’s 125-match win streak on clay is a record that has stood the test of time and is unlikely to be broken anytime soon. The American legend’s success on clay was a testament to her skill and determination as a player. It is a record that will forever be etched in the annals of tennis history. Evert’s insights on Iga Swiatek’s current form and the challenges she may face in defending her French Open title provide an interesting perspective on the upcoming tournament. As a tennis icon and respected commentator, Evert’s opinions carry weight in the tennis world and will be eagerly awaited by fans and players alike.