NAVRATILOVA FALLS ON CLAY AGAIN
Friday, April 3, 1992
HILTON HEAD, S.C. -- Natalia Zvereva had the choice of weapons in her duel with Martina Navratilova at the Family Circle Cup Thursday.
She picked clay. And on clay, Zvereva is lethal; which Navratilova knows too well.
Zvereva zapped Navratilova 6-4, 6-2, the third time the 20-year-old has defeated Navratilova in three clay-court matches.
"I love to play Martina on clay," said Zvereva, who defeated Navratilova at the 1988 French Open and the 1989 Family Circle Cup. "But she beats the hell out of me on grass."
"Natalia always gives me fits," said Navratilova, who is 3-0 against Zvereva on grass, her best surface. "She always plays well against me. She was going for broke and made the majority of her shots. She's been struggling, but she played like a Top Ten player today."
The Family Circle Cup, blessed with seven of the Top Ten before the tournament began, is quickly running out of marquee names.
No.1 Monica Seles sprained her right wrist in a bicycle accident last weekend and withdrew. No.6 Jennifer Capriati was upset by Veronika Martinek Wednesday. No.10 Jana Novotna lost to Patricia Hy 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 earlier Thursday.
Left is defending champion Gabriela Sabatini (3), Lipton champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (5) and Virginia Slims of Florida runner-up Conchita Martinez (8).
The Spainards cruised as Sanchez Vicario crushed Ines Gorrochategui 6-2, 6-1, and Martinez routed Sandra Cecchini 6-1, 6-2, while Sabatini was ready to finish off Amanda Coetzer when the sun went down behind the Carolina pines.
There are no lights here, so Sabatini, who led Coetzer 7-5, 5-3, will have to complete her match this morning.
Coetzer, the 20-year-old South African who upset Sabatini at the Virginia Slims of Florida last month, led 5-3 before Sabatini charged back and won the next four games and the first set.
Today's quarterfinals match the Sabatini-Coetzer winner against Hy; Brenda Schultz, who ousted Veronika Martinek 6-2, 6-2, against the last American, Caroline Kuhlman of Lakeside Park, Kent., a qualifier ranked No. 170; Sanchez against Leila Meskhi, last year's runner-up; and Martinez against Zvereva.
Zvereva, whose ranking slipped to No.27, has been looking for a big win all year.
"I felt like I needed a breakthrough," said Zvereva, who trains in Delray Beach with Juan Nunez, who is also coaching Schultz. "I have been losing in the first and second rounds and that gave me a big un-confidence. I felt I was hitting the ball well in practice, but matches are different."
Navratilova, who entered the Family Circle Cup as a wild card to make up for the tournament she missed in Indian Wells in February, took the defeat with a shrug.
"You can't expect to do great on this stuff with just a few days of practice," said Navratilova, who has won the Family Circle Cup four times.
"That and a lack of confidence on clay were evident."
Navratilova committed two easy mistakes as she tried to even the first set at 5-all.
Navratilova's clay-court season is over after two matches -- she beat Donna Faber Wednesday. Navratilova will skip the French Open again and prepare for the grasscourt season in England.
-- John McEnroe will replace Jimmy Connors in the NBC broadcast booth at the French Open and Wimbledon. Connors, NBC's analyst the past two years, wanted to concentrate on playing in the two Grand Slams. McEnroe will skip the French Open, but will play Wimbledon as well as commentate.