Graf Beats Fernandez, Rain Delay Steffi To Seek Her 3rd Boca Slims Title Today
March 8, 1992
BOCA RATON -- In Germany, a million fanatic tennis viewers stayed up to 1 this morning to see Steffi Graf play live in the Virginia Slims of Florida.
What they got looked something like the Henley Regatta.
"We stayed on for three minutes and showed the seat cushions floating across the court," said RTL announcer Gerd Szepanski, who reported from under a green plastic sheet. "All we needed were the sails."
RTL switched to an old Tarzan movie instead, and the tennis fans went to sleep.
The Slims faithful, who hung around in the rain and the mud for three hours, got a Graf rerun, as the top-seeded German stopped Mary Joe Fernandez for the seventh time without a loss, 6-0, 7-5.
Graf will try for a record-tying third Virginia Slims of Florida title against Conchita Martinez today at 2 p.m. (sold out, TV: Sunshine Network). Martinez beat unseeded Amanda Coetzer 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Graf won the first set in 17 minutes, losing only three points.
"I'm winning the first set so easily this week," said Graf, who has won the first set at love in three matches. "I can't believe I'm playing that well."
Fernandez fought back in the second set and served for it at 5-4. But Graf played her best again and claimed the final three games and the match.
"Once I got a game, I felt it was a new match," Fernandez said. "It was unfortunate that I didn't win the second set."
Graf is 5-0 against Martinez without losing a set. The closest match was 7-6, 7-6 in Leipzig in 1990.
"Conchita can play some great tennis," Graf said. "I won't be overconfident."
Martinez and Coetzer played in the sun -- courtside temperature was 105 when the match began at 2 p.m.
"It was a lot of hot," Martinez said.
The Spaniard was a lot of cold at the start. Coetzer won the first four games before Martinez found her range.
"I started very bad," said Martinez, who committed 29 of her 62 unforced errors in the first set. "It's impossible to play that bad the whole match."
Martinez swept the next four games to even the set, but Coetzer broke Martinez in the next game and served out the set.
"At 4-0, I started to think about winning the set, and my mind slipped a bit," Coetzer said. "Luckily, I got it back at 4-all. Then, after I won the first set, I started to think about winning the match."
Coetzer broke Martinez to open the second set, but a code violation for coaching in the second game seemed to fire up Martinez. She won the next three games and never trailed again.
"That upset me," Martinez said. "We speak before the match, but not during. Maybe the linesman didn't understand Spanish."
"I was telling Conchita to 'c'mon, c'mon,' " said Francisco Lopez, Martinez's coach. "She was not concentrating at that moment. Conchita played better after the warning. She won the second set and the third set. I should shake the umpire's hand for the warning."
The final set was decided by the first game. Coetzer missed a forehand wide on the fourth break point, ending 10 minutes of suspense.
Martinez won the last five games in 20 minutes. In all, Martinez won 16 of the last 21 games, 14 of the last 18 points.
"I was more tired mentally than physically," Coetzer said. "I pushed myself to go for shots too early in the rallies. I shouldn't have played so offensively."
Coetzer committed 18 of her 46 errors in the last six games.
"She played well to win 6-love, but I played into her hands," Coetzer said.
Coetzer, who started the tournament ranked No. 61, will move into the top 40 with the best-ever ranking this week. And now she can savor her quarterfinal victory over defending champion Gabriela Sabatini.
Coetzer called her parents in South Africa with the news Friday.
"My father said, 'I feel sorry for you, how bad was it?' " Coetzer said. "Then I told him I won. There was quiet. Then my father told me to talk to my mother first because he has a bad heart."
Martinez is playing back-to-back finals. She and Linda Harvey-Wild are in the doubles title match.
"I play happy, I play good," said Martinez, who lost to Monica Seles in the Evert Cup final last Sunday in Indian Wells, Calif.
Lopez, who started working with Martinez last October, is one reason for the happiness.
"We have a coaching relationship with feeling," Lopez said. "Conchita had problems before. She was lost. Now she is happy on and off the court. She knows what she wants more."
Considered mainly a clay-courter, Martinez is playing well on hardcourts, too.
"Conchita plays very different tennis," Lopez said. "Imagination tennis. She does not play like a machine, and the people like that."
Martinez lost to Seles 6-3, 6-1, but Lopez believed that Martinez had Seles worried.
"It was 4-3 in the first set, and Conchita missed two ads," Lopez said. "Monica looked a little nervous. Conchita is playing well, and she has an equal."
DAY 6 IN REVIEW
-- 4. Conchita Martinez d. Amanda Coetzer 4-6, 6-3, 6-0
-- 1. Steffi Graf d. 3. Mary Joe Fernandez 6-0, 7-5
-- Linda Harvey-Wild and Conchita Martinez d. 8. Meredith McGrath and Rennae Stubbs 6-3, 6-4
11 a.m., Court 23, Doubles semifinal Larisa Savchenko-Nieland and Natalia Zvereva vs. Eva Pfaff and Catherine Suire
2 p.m., stadium Conchita Martinez vs. Steffi Graf or Mary Joe Fernandez