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post #2528 of (permalink) Old Mar 6th, 2013, 07:50 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Sunday, March 6, 1988
News/Sun-Sentinel wire services

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Steffi Graf lived up to her No. 1 women's singles tennis ranking, defeating Katerina Maleeva 6-4, 6-1 to win the $200,000 U.S. Women's Hardcourt Championships.

The West German champ collected a $40,000 check after the nationally televised, hour-long match. Bulgaria's Maleeva won $20,000 in the tournament held at McFarlin Tennis Center.

Graf extended her undefeated series of matches to 26. Her last loss was to Martina Navratilova in the finals of last year's U.S. Open.

Graf said the San Antonio tournament served as a good warmup to other upcoming hardcourt tournaments.

She expects to meet the likes of Navratilova, Chris Evert, Gabriela Sabatini and Pam Shriver, all of whom passed up the U.S. Women's Hardcourt Championships.

"I'm not at my best. I'm getting better," Graf said, referring to a five-week break from competitive tennis after winning the Australian Open in January.

Graf stayed at the baseline much of the match, skillfully changing the pace on her groundstrokes to win many of her points with powerful forehand shots.

Graf won the first seven points in the match as Maleeva began her strategy of aiming for Graf's weaker backhand. Maleeva managed to trade service breaks early in the first set but found Graf's backhand to be almost as much of a weapon as her famous forehand.

"She slices her backhand most of the time cross court. You have to bend your knees low, especially when hitting your backhand with two hands like I do," Maleeva said. She "sometimes makes mistakes on her forehand. She's trying to do more things."

INDIAN WELL, Calif. -- Eighth-seeded Emilio Sanchez of Spain upset No. 4 Pat Cash of Australia 6-4, 6-4 in a semifinal match Saturday in the $702,500 Champions Cup tennis tournament.

It was the second straight upset victory for Sanchez, who ousted second- seeded Miloslav Mecir in the quarterfinals.

"I was quite confident," Sanchez said. "I knew about his groundstrokes, and they're not as good as Mecir's. I started coming in because I know his backhand is so good. That is not my style, but I changed to win. I'm very happy."

Sanchez will face third-seeded Boris Becker of West Germany today in the final. Becker defeated seventh-seeded Andre Agassi 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 earlier Saturday.

Cash, ranked seventh in the world, committed 26 unforced errors to just six for Sanchez.

"He made mistakes on easy balls," the 18th-ranked Sanchez said. "Pat was blocking the ball, which gave me more time."

In the fifth game of the second set, the players went to deuce four times, and Sanchez won his third break point when Cash hit a forehand volley to the net.

Sanchez went ahead 3-2 in the second set and served to the final point of the 1-hour, 44-minute match when Cash hit a backhand service return out.

"We played a lot when we were kids, and he was always better," Sanchez said. "To beat a player like him is nice. This win is important for my confidence. Now I think I can win some matches."

The Becker-Agassi match lasted a little over two hours, with Becker logging 10 service aces. But the 20-year-old West German did not take Agassi's challenge lightly.

"He hits the ball almost harder than Jimmy Connors," the sixth-ranked Becker said. "He has to improve on his serve and on his volleys. I just had to keep trying because his passing shots were tough."

As the 17-year-old Agassi walked off the court, Becker made a comment. When the teen-ager was asked what Becker had told him, Agassi replied that Becker said: "I hope you don't get any better."

Sanchez said he and Becker know each other's style pretty well. Sanchez has beaten Becker once in six career meetings.

"This week I had tough matches, and winning those gave me confidence," Sanchez said. "Today I had nothing to lose."
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