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On clay, serve and volley is no folly

May 26, 2008

Jana Novotna (Czech Republic)

French Open record: 38-14
Best Result: SF (1990, 1996)

The art of serve-and-volley is a rarity among the women players. So when a few specialists do turn up it is difficult to ignore them.

Also read: Somdev Devvarman sets NCAA record

Jana Novotna was probably the last woman exponent of the art. Known more for her repeated failed attempts at Wimbledon and the emotional outbursts thereafter, little know that Novotna was one of the most consistent performers at the French Open.

The Czech made it to the quarter-finals on four occasions and to the semi-finals, twice.

In 1990, she beat a fast rising Gabriela Sabatini and a veteran Katarina Maleeva before coming up short against Steffi Graf in the last four. Six years on, she shocked three times champion Monica Seles in the quarters before Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario came between her and the final.

And who can forget her third round match with American Chanda Rubin, where despite being 5-1 up and holding match points, she went on to lose the match.

For the record, a week after her emotional triumph at Wimbledon in 1998, Novotna won a tournament on clay in her native Prague. Now that's some variety.

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