TENNIS: Capriati-Sabatini a Struggle Amid Some Easy Victories
New York Times
July 1, 1992
WIMBLEDON, England, June 30— Until a resolute Jennifer Capriati stepped onto Center Court, curtsied to the royalty, and refused to leave until darkness descended on her come-from-behind tangle with Gabriela Sabatini with the Argentine about to serve for the match, everything about the women's quarterfinals at Wimbledon was strictly academic.
It rained today, the matches were delayed by three hours, the competitors spent some edgy downtime with their paperbacks, card games and crossword puzzles in the locker room, and finally the top-ranked players got down to business and eliminated the underdogs.
Monica Seles, still in unquiet contention for a 1992 Grand Slam after her successful defense of her Australian and French Open titles, advanced to her first Wimbledon semifinal, 6-1, 6-3, by pounding a distresed Nathalie Tauziat of France with a deafening combination of grunts and ground strokes.
Steffi Graf, the defending Wimbledon champion, treated her opponent, Natalya Zvereva, with efficient disdain, 6-3, 6-1. And the nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova handled Katerina Maleeva, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).
Graf's opponent in one semifinal will be the winner of the Sabatini-Capriati match, which will resume on Wednesday with the Argentine leading, 5-3, in the third set. Sabatini was ready to serve, but Capriati, responding to a signal from her father and coach, Stefano, pleaded for and was granted a suspension at 9:01 P.M. Too Much Noise
In the first of the quarterfinal matches, Tauziat couldn't find an answer to Seles on the court, but said after the match that she had been speaking for her entire peer group when she appealed to Umpire David Crymble late in the second set about the sensory deprivation she was suffering because of Seles's noisy playmaking.
"I don't think I'm going to win a match because I was grunting, and I don't think she lost today because I was grunting," said Seles, who has endured attempts to measure her audio emissions with a machine locally dubbed a gruntometer.
Seles said she was more concerned with treating this Grand Slam, the only one she has not dominated, just like the previous five she has played and won elsewhere.
"That's why I'm here," she said. "You always try to go until the end."
Tauziat, who couldn't match Seles for power or accuracy, agreed that even a silent Seles would have beaten her.
"Anyway, she's better than me," said the 14th-seeded player, now 0-3 against the world's No. 1 player. "But my complaint was that as the match advanced, she screamed a lot -- a lot; the more the point is long, the more she makes the noise, and I couldn't listen to the ball when she hit the ball."
Graf found her match "was a little bit easier than I expected." The three-time champion had a tougher time fending off the international media's obsession with her love life than she had in handing Zvereva her ninth consecutive defeat in as many confrontations.
Navratilova handled her challenger in straight sets as well. She controlled the first set, wavered in the second when Maleeva began to challenge her at her own specialty, serve-and-volley, but played an impeccable second-set tie breaker to reach her 15th Wimbledon semifinal.
Navratilova's victory guaranteed her another meeting with Seles, who wields a 6-5 edge in a see-sawing rivalry that has never before brought them together on the 35-year-old veteran's surface of choice.
"Going on history, I'm a big favorite," said Navratilova, whose nine Wimbledon crowns constitute a record that is more likely to be improved on by her than challenged by anyone else. "But if you go on this year or last year, I'm the underdog. I look at this as an opportunity to test how good she is on grass. And I have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. It's hard to rush someone who hits the ball 200 miles an hour, but I'll be coming in as much as I can."
Sabatini Loses Edge
Sabatini was only a game from challenging Graf, who defeated her in the 1991 final, when Capriati's accurate protests about the failing light on this perpetually gray day caused the match to be suspended with Sabatini leading, 6-1, 3-6, 5-3. Capriati's fighting instincts were invisible in the opening set, where Sabatini controlled the trajectory of the proceedings from her very secure post at the net. But once the 16-year-old began pushing the ball deeper in the second, Sabatini grew too familiar with the baseline and lost her edge.
The players traded service breaks in the third set, with Capriati saving one break point with a sideline-splitting overhead only to be foiled by a forehand pass on the next one, and then Sabatini held with ease for a 5-2 lead. Capriati asked for a stop of play but was denied, then held for 5-3 with a service winner before her renewed appeal worked.
Last edited by Ms. Anthropic; Dec 12th, 2012 at 07:39 PM.