Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
Boy, it's a good thing Pammy usually always most of the time kept the loser's feelings in mind and tempered her jubilation after winning.
Shriver stops Graf's streak of 46 wins - Will face Sabatini for Slims crown
Sunday, NOVEMBER 20, 1988
CHARLES CARDER, Staff writer
NEW YORK - Pam Shriver had a hug-in at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
When the last ball bounced harmlessly past the baseline and her 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Steffi Graf was secure, the tears began to stream down her face. A ball boy and girl were close, so they received the victory hugs as the 17,422 fans rocked the giant building with cheers.
Today the Lutherville, Md., player who was seeded No. 5 in the Virginia Slims Championships, will meet fourth-seeded Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina in the best of five-set final. Sabatini ousted eighth-seeded Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia 6-4, 6-2 in the other semifinal.
Martina Navratilova and Shriver won their fifth doubles title in the six-year history of the Championships, downing Larisa Savchenko and Natalia Zvereva of Russia 6-3, 6-4 late Saturday.
How big was the win?
"It's only really big if I win tomorrow. It was still only a semifinal,'' a serious Shriver said after the match. Then a giant smile spread across her face. "But it was a huge semifinal.''
How big was it? It stopped the West German's string of 46 consecutive wins by the No. 1 seed who, during this year, has won the first Grand Slam of tennis since 1970 and the first Olympic singles gold medal since 1924.
It was Shriver's second upset in as many matches. She beat third-seeded Chris Evert in the first quarterfinal match on Thursday.
"I don't think I've ever defeated two players ranked ahead of me, not since I've been in the top five,'' Shriver said.
A group of about 300 Graf fans had purchased tickets at courtside and armed themselves with West German flags. They started chanting for Graf from the first shot. But U.S. fans rose to challenge and picked up the Shriver cause. By the time Shriver won the first set, Graf fans were drowned out.
After all, this is the city were Shriver enjoyed her first success, reaching the final of the U.S. Open 10 years ago.
"I think that it was then that I realized that these people were happy that I had won,'' Shriver recalled the moments at the end of the match.
The 1-hour, 36-minute match didn't start well for Shriver. She was broken in the first game but broke right back. That was the last time she would lose her serve.
The deciding break in the first set came in the eighth game, and there were no service breaks in the second set. Graf had a break point in the 10th game when a net cord ball bounced over Shriver's head. But a backhand net error negated that potential break.
Graf was not strong on the backhand side, missing at key points from that side.
"Both (the backhand and the slice backhand) were not working too well,'' Graf said. "I was trying to change it sometimes and it didn't work at all, so I was trying to play more topspins and it worked a couple of times.''
Graf came down with a cold early in the week but pulled out a win over Manuela Maleeva in the quarters. She was still affected by the cold against Shriver.
"Disgusting,'' was the way she described her feelings. "In the beginning I was not quite myself, not nervous but a little shaky. In the second set I felt better, but...'' her voice trailed off as did her game.
It was in the tie-breaker that Shriver was at her best. She won the first point on a backhand net error by Graf, took the second point with three reflex volleys, the last of which banged into the corner, and went up 3-0. Graf fought back to take the lead at 5-4, but that was the end.
Shriver forced Graf into two backhands, which she miss-hit, and on match point Graf was long with a forehand as she attempted to pass Shiver.
The Sabatini-Sukova match was anticlimactic. Sukova was broken in the third game of the first set and the fifth and third games of the second set. Sukova probably left her game on the court on Friday night when she upset Martina Navratilova in singles and was forced to play three sets in doubles before losing at midnight.
Sabatini admitted that she was expecting to play Graf if she got to the final and confessed that she was guilty of looking ahead. She also admitted that Shriver has been a tough opponent for her.
Shriver has won five of their eight meetings. After losing the first two times they met, Shriver put together four consecutive wins before Sabatini won again. Shriver won their only meeting of 1988, at the Virginia Slims of Washington.