Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
The withdrawals are just beginning -- and it's more or less going to be the death of this tournament.
NOVOTNA, DATE, SUKOVA PULL OUT - DELRAY TOURNAMENT LOSES TOP PLAYERS
Friday, March 3, 1995
CHARLES BRICKER, Staff Writer
Top-10 players Jana Novotna and Kimiko Date and four-time Grand Slam finalist Helena Sukova pulled out of the Delray Beach Winter Championships Thursday, dealing the women's tournament a major blow four days before its Monday start.
Novotna, ranked fifth in the world, and Date, No. 8, withdrew with shoulder injuries. Sukova, a semifinalist at Delray last year, has a possible career-ending back injury.
The losses left the tournament with three top-10 players, though one is No. 1 Steffi Graf, the best draw in the women's game.
Graf, who has played only one tournament this year because of injury, said Thursday she not only is playing Delray but also is eager to get back to competition.
She won the Gaz de France, an indoor tournament in Paris, on Feb. 19, defeating Mary Pierce in straight sets, and will be seeded No. 1 at Delray ahead of Conchita Martinez, Anke Huber, Brenda Schultz, Sabine Hack, Mary Joe Fernandez, Irena Spirlea and Nathalie Tauziat.
Novotna would have been seeded third and Date fourth. Graf, ranked second in the world behind Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, and Martinez (4) and Huber (10) are now the only top-10 players in the tournament.
Although Sukova's injury reportedly is "very serious," not much is known about the severity of the damage in Novotna's and Date's shoulders. It is possible they are not badly injured but don't want to take a chance on aggravating the injuries and missing The Lipton (March 17-26), which has more prize money and more ranking points.
With three spots opening up, the top three seeds in the qualifying tournament were elevated to the main draw - Maria Strandlund of Sweden, Tatiana Ignatieva of Belarus and Katarina Studenikova of Slovakia.