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post #2430 of (permalink) Old Nov 4th, 2012, 04:24 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf And Sanchez To Meet In The Final Steffi Graf Needed Only 42 Minutes To Demolish Jennifer Capriati, 6-0, 6-1, In Their Semifinal.
November 15, 1992
Diane Pucin

Jennifer Capriati was nothing but some poor, misplaced trout yesterday at the Civic Center, mouth open, swimming back and forth, following Steffi Graf's forehands and backhands around the court.

Capriati, the No. 4 seed, lost, 6-0, 6-1, to Graf, the No. 1 seed, in the semifinals of the Virginia Slims of Philadelphia tournament.

Graf will play Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in today's 12:45 p.m. final. Sanchez, the No. 3 seed, came back to beat No. 2 seed Gabriela Sabatini, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, last night. If Graf plays today like she did yesterday, the awards ceremony will be held about 1:30 p.m.

If only she had one more digit. Then Capriati could have counted the points she won from Graf on her fingers and toes.

Twenty-one points was all for Capriati in the 42-minute match. That's like a baseball team scoring a run every 18 innings or a football team scoring a touchdown every three weeks. It means you lose.

Capriati wasn't devastated or anything afterward. How could she be? She never had a chance. "I couldn't breathe out there," Capriati said. "She was all over me. It was like she had an answer for everything." Graf had answers before Capriati could even come up with the questions. The answers: slice backhands so low that the net seemed to duck just so Graf's ball would float over; wicked forehands that seemed to be guided by some cruel radar that allowed the ball to only land on a line, the baseline, the sidelines, the service line, always on a line.

After Graf had held her serve with the loss of one point in the first game, Capriati found out exactly how hopeless this brief afternoon would be. The 16- year-old, who has worked hard to get her serves up around 100 m.p.h. on a regular basis, couldn't win a point in the second game on her own serve. The game took less than a minute and Capriati's eyes got a little wide and her mouth formed a little pout.

Graf said that her last three matches here "have shown the best I can show." Graf, this year's 23-year-old Wimbledon champion, is particularly happy with the way she is using the court. Against Capriati, Graf used that annoyingly low slice backhand to draw Capriati wider and wider until, after two or three shots, Graf would have an entire court into which to direct her ferocious forehand.

"I know I can go for shots whenever I want," Graf said. "I am simply enjoying (tennis) very much. I am aware of everything that is happening."

After going to the Flyers' game Thursday, Graf said she enjoyed one moment in particular in Philadelphia's 8-5 win. "I especially like when (Eric) Lindros knocked a guy down and the crowd started going crazy shouting 'Er-Ric, Er-Ric.' " If this had been a hockey game yesterday, Graf would have knocked Capriati down and the crowd would have been shouting 'Stef-Fi, Stef-Fi.' "

There was lots of shouting last night. There were two Catalan flags and a rowdy balcony-level crowd for Sanchez, who comes from Barcelona, Spain, home of the Catalans and their red-and-yellow flag. But there was also an Argentine flag hanging from the balcony and even more fans cheering for Sabatini.
Story continues below.

From the start, Sanchez seemed in control. Even while Sabatini was winning the first set, it was Sanchez, the 20-year-old who won the 1989 French Open, who was dictating play. Sanchez kept Sabatini sprawling, like a hockey goalie on a bad night. Sanchez was playing well-plotted points. Every shot seemed to have a purpose, to keep Sabatini off guard. Sanchez said she knew Sabatini would try to come to the net often. Sanchez said she didn't want Sabatini at the net. Sabatini didn't get there often. Sabatini said she was tired, especially in the third set. Sanchez could take the credit because she always had Sabatini moving.

"I knew I had to be aggressive," Sanchez said. "If not, she would come into the net. From the beginning (of the match), I was hitting the ball very well. I play the important points exactly the way I was thinking to do."

Graf owns a 15-3 career advantage over Sanchez. But Sanchez's three wins have come at crucial times. The first was in the final of the '89 French Open; the second was in the semifinals of the 1991 French Open; the third was just last September, in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.

If Sanchez's match against Sabatini had lasted three more minutes (it took 2 hours, 3 minutes), it would have been three times as long as Graf's 42- minute blowout. "She's playing really well at the moment," Sanchez conceded. "But I don't have nothing to lose." Nothing but a little time, maybe a very little time.
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