SABATINI AGAIN WINS FAMILY CIRCLE CUP DEFEATS MARTINEZ, IS NO. 1 IN POINTS
Monday, April 6, 1992
HILTON HEAD, S.C. -- Gabriela Sabatini got special permission to ride her motorcycle around town last week. Motorcycles are banned on this island playground, but Sabatini is the defending champion of the Family Circle Cup. The queen.
Sabatini should be able to break any rule she wants for another year as she rode off with another title Sunday, defeating Conchita Martinez 6-1, 6-4 before a sellout crowd of 9,300 at Sea Pines Plantation.
Sabatini (26-3) moved into first place in the Kraft Tour points standings with her third victory of the year, adding the Family Circle Cup to Sydney and Tokyo, but this one may have been the most rewarding. It erased two frustrating finishes in Florida.
A cramp-ridden Sabatini was upset by Amanda Coetzer in the quarterfinals of the Virginia Slims of Florida, then knocked off by Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the Lipton final.
''It always gives me a lot of confidence to win a tournament,'' said Sabatini, 21, who won her 23rd title, tying her with Monica Seles.
''The Family Circle Cup has always been a very special tournament to me, ever since I reached the final when I was 14.''
Martinez lost her third successive final but dueled Sabatini brilliantly in the second set after surrendering the first quickly.
Down 1-3, Martinez won three games in a row, then had two break points for 5-3. Sabatini saved them, held, then broke for 5-4 with a nifty drop volley.
But Martinez was not done. She had Sabatini down love-40 but couldn't push her over the edge.
Sabatini won the last five points, ending the match with another delicate drop volley.
''Down love-40, Gaby played with courage, with determination,'' said Carlos Kirmayr, her coach. ''She was taking chances. I like that.''
Sabatini saved the first break point with an overhead, the second with a drop shot and the third when Martinez netted a forehand.
''At love-40, I was just thinking of the next point,'' said Sabatini, who is 6-2 against Martinez. ''I didn't play bad; she was just playing better.''
''I thought maybe I have a chance to win the second set,'' Martinez said.
''If Conchita had won the second set, she would have had a good chance in the third,'' said Paco Lopez, her coach. She had chances. With a player like Sabatini, you have to take advantage.''
Martinez converted only one of nine break points. Sabatini won four of nine.
Martinez, off with her mighty forehand, committed 32 unforced errors to 15 for Sabatini, who won 24 of 28 points at the net.
''A player like Conchita, who hits a big forehand, has good days feeling the ball,'' Lopez said. ''She had a little bad luck in the second set.''
Martinez had lost finals in Indian Wells (Seles) and Boca Raton (Steffi Graf) before Hilton Head.
''Three finals in a row is very good,'' said Martinez, who will be the fourth seed behind Graf, Sabatini and Sanchez at the Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island this week. ''Maybe the fourth time I can win.''
-- Carling Bassett-Seguso of Boca Raton defeated Kristina Brandi, daughter of Florida women's coach Andy Brandi, 6-2, 6-2 to qualify for the main draw at Amelia Island.
Bassett, 5-2 in three tournaments since her comeback, will face 16-year-old Lindsay Davenport, the U.S. Girls 18 champion, in the first round today.