Rain, and rain only, delays Graf
St. Petersburg Times
Mar 8, 1992
Mary Joe Fernandez waited all day and into night Saturday to play Steffi Graf, and then played a match that was hardly worth waiting for.
Heavy rains delayed the start of their Virginia Slims of Florida semifinal for three hours. When play began at about 10 p.m., all Miami's Fernandez could offer the 3,000 or so of her South Florida neighbors who stuck around was a 6-0, 7-5 loss.
Fernandez was left wondering what went wrong, while the top-seeded Graf skated into today's final against fourth-seeded Conchita Martinez, who dusted off unseeded upstart Amanda Coetzer 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
"(The rain delay) didn't really bother me," Graf said. "I just wanted to get it on."
Fernandez, seeded third, no doubt hoped the rain delay would work in her favor. Heaven knows she could use some help against Graf, who has thumped her in each of their seven meetings.
Graf nixed that idea from the beginning. In the first set, Graf didn't even give Fernandez enough points (three) to collectively win a game. The opening set took 17 minutes.
Fernandez came out tentative, and Graf gobbled her up, snapping at every soft groundstroke Fernandez pushed over the net.
Fernandez picked up the pace in the second set, breaking Graf's serve at the start. But by then, Graf was already in her groove and Fernandez was on a one-way street out of the tournament. After just more than an hour, Fernandez knocked a forehand into the net, ending the match at about 11:12 p.m.
The only thing that bothered Graf was that the start of the match caused her to miss the end of the movie Beverly Hills Cop.
"I missed the last 10 minutes," said Graf, who is 5-0 against Martinez and is going for her third Slims of Florida title.
It was unfortunate for tournament officials that the Graf-Fernandez match lacked drama, because the Coetzer-Martinez match was short on it, too. It went the distance, but it was about as mundane as any three-setter could be.
Granted, the 61st-ranked Coetzer did add some intrigue to the afternoon with her quick start, prompting some to wonder if she was going to pull the plug on the favored Martinez just as she had done to a dumbfounded Gabriela Sabatini a day earlier. Unlike their previous encounters, Martinez was flubbing virtually every other shot, racking up 29 unforced errors - 23 off her forehand - in the first set alone.
"I missed too much; many mistakes," Martinez said. "I figured it was impossible to play that bad all match."
Coetzer, 20, raced out to a 4-0 lead and then made the first of two deadly mistakes.
"I started thinking about winning the set," she admitted. "I let my mind slip and she started playing more defensively."
As a result, Martinez closed to 4-4 and stretched what should have been an almost effortless opening set into a grind. Although Coetzer eventually won the set, the effort combined with 100-plus on-court temperature took its toll later.
After breaking Martinez's serve to start the second set, Coetzer again made the mistake of looking too far ahead. "I was thinking of winning the match," she said. "Then she started playing more and I couldn't hit the shots."
Martinez ran away with the second set and when the third began, Coetzer had already had enough. "I was struggling to get my breath," she said.
For Martinez, today's final is her second in as many weeks. Last Sunday she reached the final of the Evert Cup, where she lost to top-ranked Monica Seles.
Regardless of how she does today, she has already logged her best showing ever here. Last year, in her only appearance at this event, she was upset in her first match by Claudia Porwik.
"I came here very comfortable with the way I'm playing," Martinez said. "The draw was good to me and now I'm in the finals and I'm very happy with that." - Information from the Associated Press was used in this roundup.