SABATINI'S OUT; GRAF STRUGGLES - FRIDAY'S KEY RESULTS
Sun-Sentinel - Saturday, March 7, 1992
Author: JIM SARNI
BOCA RATON -- Steffi Graf survived; Gabriela Sabatini didn't.
What a wild ride for two Virginia Slims of Florida champions and a sellout crowd of 6,181 left breathless at The Polo Club on Friday.
Sabatini was denied a shot at an unprecedented fourth title by steady Amanda Coetzer and an attack of cramps in the third set of a baffling 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 defeat.
Graf, meanwhile, still has a chance to win her record-tying third title after an amazing roller-coaster 6-0, 5-7, 7-5 victory over courageous Zina Garrison.
Mary Joe Fernandez and Conchita Martinez completed today's semifinal foursome with more routine victories.
Fernandez avenged last year's loss to Nathalie Tauziat 6-4, 6-2, while Martinez defeated Barbara Rittner 6-1, 6-0.
Fernandez takes on Graf at 7 p.m. Martinez meets Coetzer at 2 p.m. Both sessions are sold out.
Graf held double-match point at 6-0, 5-2, 15-40 before Garrison staged a remarkable rally. Garrison was two points from a 5-3 lead in the third set.
"I need to have some tough matches and that's what I got," said Graf, who is playing only her second tournament of an illness-plagued season.
"Up 6-0, 5-2, but in a crazy way, this was good for me."
Fueled by the crowd, Garrison nearly completed one of the great comebacks in tennis history.
"I felt I should have won," said Garrison, who defeated Graf at Wimbledon in a 1990 classic. "I didn't go for it. When you're playing No. 2 in the world, they're not going to give it to you; you have to take it."
Garrison was up a break twice in the final set, at 2-1 and 3-2. Serving at 4-3, Garrison saved two break points with an overhead and a service winner, but doublefaulted at deuce, then netted a forehand to lose the edge.
Graf held for 4-all at deuce, saving a break point with a forehand volley, and winning the next two points on backhand errors.
With husband Willard yelling "Pump it up, Z," Garrison held for 5-all with a devilish forehand drop shot on her fifth game point.
Then was the end of the drama, however, as Graf won seven of the last eight points, breaking Garrison at love to finish the match.
"The last game went very quick," Garrison said. "The points flew by."
"I played aggressive again," Graf said. "I was more on the defensive after 6-0, 5-2. I should have come in more, but she was making these crazy passing shots that kept me back. She went for her shots and made some great ones."
Bothered by a troublesome skirt, Graf got a new one at 3-4 in the final set from her father, Peter, who raced across the street to Steffi's house for the garment.
"I've been running 20 miles a day, but this was harder," Peter said. "To win a match like that, when she was up and down, is good for Steffi."
"I felt great after I put on the new skirt," said Graf, who performed the change neatly at courtside, wrapping the new skirt over the old one.
A fresh skirt would not have helped Sabatini in the third set. She needed new legs and a new right arm.
Midway through the final set, Sabatini began limping, as the cramps hit one leg, then the other. The pain shot up her right arm, and she tried to hit one shot left-handed. Sabatini called for the trainer at 5-2, but there was no quick fix.
"I'm surprised and disappointed," Sabatini said. "I've never had cramps that bad before. I wonder why it happened. I've been feeling good and practicing well."
"This is the best win of my career," said Coetzer, 20, an unseeded South African ranked No. 61. "I know I played a good match. (Sabatini's cramps) don't take anything away from it."
Coetzer lost the first-set battle that lasted an hour, but won the war.
"She wasn't hurting me from the baseline, and I knew that if I could hang in there in the second set, I had a good chance," said Coetzer, who won her first three matches in straight sets.
"Winning the first game of the second set was very important."
Sabatini led 2-0 in the final set, but never won another game. Coetzer broke from 40-love for a 3-2 lead, then saved two break points as she held for 4-2.
"I started losing control at 3-2," Sabatini said. "I thought about quitting, but I felt I should try it."
-- Amanda Coetzer d No. 2 Gabriela Sabatini 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
-- No. 1 Steffi Graf d. No. 7 Zina Garrison 6-0, 5-7, 7-5.
TODAY'S KEY MATCHES
-- Conchita Martinez vs. Amanda Coetzer, 2 p.m.
-- Steffi Graf vs. Mary Joe Fernandez, 7 p.m..
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"When someone comes back from 6-0, 5-2, 40-15, who wouldn't cheer for that somebody?" -- Steffi Graf after edging Zina Garrison.
-- In head-to-head matchups, Steffi Graf leads Mary Joe Fernandez 6-0 and Conchita Martinez leads Amanda Coetzer 2-0.
-- Graf reached her sixth consecutive Virginia Slims of Florida semifinal. She missed the 1990 tournament with a broken thumb.
Last edited by Ms. Anthropic; Nov 30th, 2012 at 06:00 PM.