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post #2552 of (permalink) Old Mar 26th, 2013, 12:02 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Miami Herald
Friday, March 25, 1988

When a linesman reversed a call in favor of Mary Joe Fernandez late in Thursday's match, he elicited an uncharacteristic glare from Chris Evert that would have frozen a geyser.

"Come on, Chris, you're up, 6-2, 5-0," a fan grumbled.

But Evert, the No. 2 seed, didn't want to give a millimeter in their semifinal at the $2.1 million Lipton International Players Championships on Key Biscayne.

"He called it out and then went like this," Evert said later, giving a linesman's hands-down signal for a shot that is on the line. "I was so intense, I wanted every point that was fairly mine."

The point earned Fernandez her only game in the second set. Evert then held serve to win in a vintage performance, 6-2, 6-1, in 65 minutes as she advanced to Saturday's 1 p.m. final. In a rematch of the Australian Open final, she'll face top-seeded Steffi Graf, who Thursday night fought off a quick start by 34th-ranked Stephanie Rehe and won, 6-3, 6-1.

"Play like this against Graf!" a spectator hollered just before Evert won match point.

If she does, it may be a long afternoon for the world's top-ranked player. Especially if Evert's take-no-prisoners intensity level is as high as it was Thursday.

"If I had lost concentration for about two points, it would have been a different story," said Evert, who made only 19 unforced errors to Fernandez's 42. "I felt if I gave her an opening,
she'd take advantage.

"I didn't want to let her in the match. I played her at Stuttgart (West Germany) and felt I played well. But I was ahead, 6-2, 5-3, and let up and needed to win, 6-4, in the third set. Maybe I learned a little."

And Fernandez, the 16-year-old from Miami, learned another lesson about mental toughness from her long-time idol.

"She was just too dominant," said Fernandez, who is 0-5 against Evert. "I was getting to balls later and later, and she kept pounding and pounding. She hit everything on the line and in the corners.

"I knew she'd be tough. She always is tough mentally. She never lets anything affect her. If she keeps playing like this, she'll stay on top for awhile."

Evert jumped on top of Fernandez with a service break in the fourth game and never eased up. She pinned Fernandez to the baseline with deep groundstrokes and tossed in a few drop shots and lobs for good measure.

In defeating fifth-ranked Gabriela Sabatini last Sunday, Fernandez charged to the net 50 times and won 34 of the points. But she came in only 19 times Thursday and won just 10 points as Evert answered with pinpoint passing shots.

"There weren't a whole lot of strenuous rallies," Evert said. "She tried changing games and coming in, but my passing shots worked real good.

"I don't think she could beat me from the net. I was happy when she came in."

As temperatures climbed to the 80s, the patience and stamina of both players were tested. And Evert, 33, persevered.

"My feet were burning out there," Fernandez said. "I got tired in the heat. It was the hottest it has been in the tournament.

"I've had a tough couple of weeks, played a lot of matches. Naturally I had to get slower."

Asked what it will take to beat Evert, Fernandez said, "I have to get to balls quicker, attack her and control the points better."

As Evert said, this was a match in which she had "everything to lose and nothing to gain." In a tournament with three teen-agers in the semifinals, the pressure was on her.

"I felt that pressure," Evert said. "And it worked in a positive way. I was pretty nervous before the match."

But not so nervous that it rattled her game.

"I'm still trying to be a fighter on the court and not be too mellow," Evert said. "With the players today, you have to be."

Graf found that out against Rehe, an 18-year-old Californian who broke her serve in the first game and grabbed a 2-1 lead. Then Graf's potent forehand kicked into high gear.

"I wasn't rolled over, I surprised some people," said Rehe. "Then she picked up her game and I made a few errors. She's not the No. 1 player for nothing. Her forehand just blew by me in the second set."

Graf was one of those surprised at Rehe's gangbusters start. "She was going for her shots and using an aggressive style. At 3-3, I picked up my game. I started taking more risks and was going into the forehand. That's the way I should go into it."

And what about Evert?

"She's much more eager this year," said Graf. "Yes, I'm surprised. I mean . . . 33. Maybe (her engagement last week to Andy Mill) helped her, too."

Fernandez was asked if she thought Evert could defeat Graf. "It's tough to say. Graf is playing well. Chris has to play really well and go for her shots more. But with Chris, anything is possible."

Thursday's results

Women's singles


Steffi Graf (1) d. Stephanie Rehe, 6-3, 6-1; Chris Evert (2) d. Mary Joe Fernandez (15), 6-2, 6-1.

Men's doubles


Anders Jarryd-John Fitzgerald d. Paul Annacone-Christo Van Rensburg, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-1; Ken Flach-Robert Seguso d. Kelly Jones-Michael Mortensen, 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (11-9).

Mixed doubles


Michiel Schapers-Ann Henricksson d. Bud Cox-Wendy White, 6-4, 6-4.

Today's schedule

1 p.m. session

Stadium court -- Miloslav Mecir vs. Jimmy Connors; Lori McNeil-Betsy Nagelsen vs. Steffi Graf -Gabriela Sabatini.

7 p.m. session

Stadium court -- Mats Wilander (1) vs. Yannick Noah.

TBA -- Jim Pugh-Jana Novotna vs. Ken Flach-Betsy Nagelsen; Candy Reynolds-Paula Smith vs. Gigi Fernandez-Zina Garrison.
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