Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2 - Page 157 -
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post #2341 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 1st, 2012, 06:51 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Originally Posted by djul14 View Post
It's better thank you !

But look the one about the 88 Grand Slam they only speak about the (non) reaction and the other one (us open 89) about Navratilova (who lost).
It's not the first time, it's still, I feel like it's more about how she is (was) than about the game and what she accomplished.
That's probably why I didn't have read a lot of US articles (I think)

Well, there are quite a few examples from the US press where her victories are "celebrated" or "marveled at" rather than "respected" (some more begrudgingly than others) or "detested." But yes, the psychological profile/analysis of the athlete as a person has always been a big part of our sports writing. Part of it has to do with our "culture of personality." Part of it has to do with most American sports press being almost scared of things that are "subtle" and perhaps even "contradictory." Part of it also has to do our media (print and TV) just going by the comments from press conferences or being more comfortable with stereotypes and focusing on what they think people want to read/hear rather than with paying attention to what's actually going on in front of them (this applies to much more than just Steffi/tennis/sports).

So for some them, Steffi and her accomplishments were a very puzzling subject. Some of them never did/will comprehend it. Some of them just simply got used to her, or at least decided she was preferable to the "alternatives." Others were able to understand or appreciate it during/after her vulnerable moments. And a few started out liking her and ended up despising her. Although to be fair, I don't think it was only the American press that was this way. I'm given to understand the French press can be a tough crowd. To say nothing of some of things that came out of the non-tabloid German press.

And don't forget the Italians back in her early days! They esteemed her with so much animosity that it made Bud Collins go seek her out in 1983:

The first time Collins saw Graf play was at the U.S. Open when she was 13.
An Italian friend of Collins told him about "this monster, Graf."

"These guys, Italians, don't talk about women's tennis," Collins said. "They
wouldn't come into this room to see Suzanne Lenglen's reincarnation.

"So I made a point to go out there and I had a nice chat with her. She was
very shy."
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post #2342 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 1st, 2012, 07:00 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

September 11, 1988
Open Victory Gives Graf a Grand Slam
"New York Times"

It took a 19-year-old West German with a rapier forehand to give the National Tennis Center the tradition it lacked, and perhaps even some needed dignity. With the flags of the four Grand Slam countries fluttering in a strong breeze on the stadium court yesterday, Steffi Graf accepted the accolades and gifts of a tennis world that had just watched her make history in the United States Open.

For the first time in 18 years, tennis has a Grand Slam champion. Graf joined the exclusive club when she defeated her teen-age contemporary, Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, adding the Open to her previous championships this year in the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon. Only Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver and Margaret Court have won the Slam. Court was the most recent champion, completing it in 1970, when the United States Open was played at Forest Hills.

The Tennis Center is a much maligned byproduct of professional tennis, a place where money, not tradition, has counted most. Playing on synthetic Deco II hardcourt, which has replaced grass and red clay as the standard surface in tennis, Graf gave more than 21,000 fans a day to remember.

After the match, she rushed to the box seats where her family was sitting, hugging her father, mother, brother and coach Pavil Slozil. She participated in a postmatch ceremony, flag bearers adding to the pomp and circumstance. Gordon Jorgensen, president of the United States Tennis Association, gave Graf a bracelet with four diamonds, one for each Grand Slam event. Budge, who won the Grand Slam in 1938 and is one of Graf's fans, warmly congratulated her. Graf then raised the Open trophy over her head in the customary victory pose. The victory was worth $275,000 in prize money for Graf, but that hardly seemed to matter. Earlier this year, she passed $1 million in prize money.

The final was a tense, if not classic match, the pressure obvious in some of the tentative points that Graf played. But Sabatini also was eager for the challenge. The 18-year-old is ranked fifth in the world and is generally regarded as the player most likely to challenge Graf's status as the top player in the game. Last March, Sabatini handed Graf her only two losses of the year.

"I think it is great what she did," Sabatini said. "Not too many people can win a Grand Slam. She won all with much confidence. Her mentality is perfect."

Graf has lost only four matches in the last two years, playing with a consistency that belies the grueling nature of life on the tour. She has a 60-2 match record this year, and has defeated Sabatini in 12 of their 14 career matches.

Sabatini, however, has many of the same qualities that Graf brings to the court. She has an excellent topspin forehand, an ever-improving serve, and arguably, a better net game. Yesterday, she even varied the pace, looping some groundstrokes, making Graf supply her own power. The difference between the two centers on Sabatini's penchant for tiring, her Achilles' heel, and the tendency for her mind to wander. It was just such a lapse in the third set that may have cost her yesterday's match.

Graf advanced to the final when Chris Evert was forced to withdraw from Friday's semifinal because of a stomach ailment.

She broke Sabatini twice to win the first set, but her own service games were shaky. So, despite the first set outcome, Sabatini felt she was very much in the match. She broke Graf in the fourth game of the next set, forcing three errors, among them one on Graf's forehand, the single most intimidating shot in women's tennis. Graf broke back in the seventh game, hitting a slingshot forehand winner at Sabatini's feet on break point, but Sabatini displayed some resolve of her own, immediately breaking back, running down two of Graf's forehands.

She closed out the set and had the majority of fans supporting her. It appeared they were not interested in history being made. Anyone closely watching Sabatini, however, could see that she was taking longer between points. She did not look as excited as she should. "I knew she had to be nervous," Sabatini said, "but I just got too tired. I was trying, though. I played like I did against her in the last matches. I hit deep balls. That bothers her very much. For some moments I do it, for some I don't."

One of the moments that she didn't came in the second game of the third set. Graf broke Sabatini at love, 3 of the points coming on unforced errors. There was also a forehand crosscourt winner by Graf, which landed on the line.

The early break raised her confidence, giving her some breathing room. She broke again in the sixth game, with Sabatini double-faulting on break point. There were some nervous moments when she was trying to close out the match, but when she reached Grand Slam point, Graf whistled a backhand groundstroke crosscourt that almost knocked the racquet from Sabatini's hand.

Graf was planning to leave for her home in Bruehl, West Germany, last night, to rest. Then, she will head for Seoul, South Korea, and the Olympic Games. As she said, the year is not over. A gold medal may await.
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post #2343 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 2nd, 2012, 12:33 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf Just Outlasts Shriver in Thriller, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6
September 05, 1985 | MIKE PENNER | LA Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — The West German met the American in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Wednesday and, sure enough, it was a match for the ages.

Emotions exploded, fickle momentum kept changing sides, and spectacular shot countered spectacular shot as the contestants grappled through three tiebreakers.

With the struggle approaching the three-hour mark, spectators jammed the aisles, holding their breath and craning their necks to get a better view of the dramatic, climactic points.

"I don't think I've ever played such a close match," said the winner.

"I don't think I've ever put in such an effort and lost in my life," said the loser.

This was the classic confrontation everyone had expected the quarterfinals of the 1985 U.S. Open to produce.

There was only one deviation from the original story line.

The players wore dresses.

Forget John McEnroe and Boris Becker. The U.S. Open had to, once Joakim Nystrom did a rewrite on the marquee billing.

The match of this year's U.S. Open apparently will have been played in the women's division, where West Germany's Steffi Graf staggered past Pam Shriver in three momentous sets, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6.

In 2 hours 46 minutes of tennis that tested will, skill and stamina, tournament records fell--if the players didn't.

Never before in U.S. Open history had a women's match produced tiebreakers in all three sets. In total games, it was the longest women's match played here since the adoption of the tiebreaker system in 1970.

Twice before at the Open, women have battled for 38 games--Lele Forood vs. Carrie Meyer in 1978, and Lisa Bonder vs. Barbara Potter in 1983. Wednesday, Graf and Shriver played the maximum number allowed--39.

True, the women's tennis at Flushing Meadow this year had been b - o - r - i - n - g through the first eight days. But in one titanic duel in the sun, Shriver, the tall net-rusher, and Graf, the miniature ground stroke machine, made up for all the straight-set blowouts.

"It was one of the most unbelievable matches that I've been a part of," Shriver said. "My effort couldn't have been more--and it was just about two points too less."

The scorecard will show that Shriver, ranked third in the world and seeded fourth in this tournament, had victory cupped in her hands more than once. She led, 4-1, in the third set, served for the match at 5-3 and was ahead, 4-3, in the final tiebreaker.

Each time, Shriver let victory slip through her fingers.

But Shriver would not concede that the dripping tension and gripping drama got the best of her.

Choke? Shriver insisted there wasn't time to choke.

"I know it sounds silly, but the match was such an unbelievable struggle that there honestly wasn't that much time to get nervous," she said.

Fatigue, however, was another matter.

"At the end, I think Pam was a little bit angry and tired," Graf said.

Shriver didn't argue.

"That's what will happen when you're serving and volleying and diving around for passing shots," she said. "I mean, some of the points were so violent for me that I guess I got a little jaded toward the end. Actually, my legs have felt better.

"On my service games, I just wanted to hit aces. I didn't want her to get one ball back. Then, I started not serving as well.

"I didn't feel very well from 4-1 on."

This match was draining even to watch. Each set held more suspense than all of the previous four rounds of women's competition combined.

Set No. 1: At 5-5, Graf broke Shriver and prepared to serve for the set at 6-5. Graf's first delivery, however, was drilled by Shriver and headed back toward the baseline. Graf thought the ball was long. The linesman called it good. Graf protested and kicked the ball in disgust, drawing a code-violation warning.

Graf fell behind, 0-40, then rallied and forced deuce. Five deuce points later, Graf netted a backhand from the baseline to bring on the first tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, Graf fell back again at 0-3--and came back again to assume a 6-4 advantage. On her third set point, Graf hit a deep forehand that may or may not have caught the base line. The linesman called it good. Shriver swatted the ball into the net.

Graf won the tiebreaker, 7-4.

Set No. 2: Shriver broke Graf's second serve and, while gritting her teeth, pumping her fist and falling into the net in pursuit of half-volleys, built leads of 4-2 and 5-3. But in the 10th game, Graf hit three sensational passing shots, the third breaking service and forging a 5-5 tie.

Graf took a 6-5 edge when Shriver mis-hit an overhead. Shriver held her ground as she held her next serve, shouting "C'mon!" as she walked off the court even at 6-6.

The second tiebreaker was the flip side of the first--Graf taking a 3-1 lead, then falling behind at 6-4. Shriver then sneaked in a second serve, wide to Graf's forehand. Pulled off the court, all Graf could do was curl her return into the net.

Shriver won the tiebreaker, 7-4.

Set No. 3: Another early service break for Shriver, helped her build a 4-1 lead. Graf held to pull to within 4-2 and then broke Shriver when Shriver's forehand at 30-40 found only net.

Shriver, however, broke back and could have served out the match at 5-3. But again, Graf scrambled back with passing shots, breaking Shriver again at 15.

Service was held for the next three games, creating the need for the historic third tiebreaker. At 4-4 and serving, Shriver netted a lunging volley that signaled, finally, the end.

Graf took her turn at the service line and set up match point with a service winner. Moments later, Shriver sailed a backhand long and a Grandstand Court crowd of more than 6,000 exhaled at last.

Three tiebreakers, all decided by 7-4 margins, two won by Graf. Shriver buried her face in a towel at courtside, emptying the emotions that had been pent up for three hours, and Graf left the court as cameras clicked away. For the first time all afternoon, Graf smiled.

"I'm really happy now," Graf said at her press conference. "But I don't think I really know that I won and am in the semis. It's going to take a while to know I'm in the semis."

And just who will Graf face in the semifinals?

Steffi, can you say Martina Navratilova ? Can you say good luck . . . and goodbye?

Earlier Wednesday, Navratilova blitzed Zina Garrison, the world's sixth-ranked player, 6-2, 6-3. The execution lasted 56 minutes--approximately the length of one of Graf's sets with Shriver.

Graf may be West Germany's female answer to Boris Becker, a precocious 16-year-old who's already ranked No. 11 in the world. Ted Tinling has selected Graf and Argentina's Gabriela Sabatini as the stars of women's tennis, circa 1990.

But here in 1985, Graf must face a monumental task against Navratilova. She completed a monumental task just to get here.

"I'm not ready to beat her at this moment," Graf admitted. "I have to work on my service and backhand. It is going to take me a good while . . . Maybe if she breaks a leg or something."

Said Shriver, biting back the frustration over again failing to set up a semifinal meeting with her doubles partner: "I can't see her (Graf), in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, winning--although if she did it, it would make me look pretty darn good.

"Martina will be able to pick apart her serve a lot better than I did. She'll put an awful lot of pressure on Steffi's serve."

And that's not all of it. Graf's biggest obstacle, in Shriver's estimation?

"If she recovers from this match," Shriver said.
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post #2344 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 3rd, 2012, 01:17 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

For Graf, wait was longer than her fourth-round win
September 03, 1991 | By New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- Steffi Graf waited nearly an hour and a half to play her fourth-round U.S. Open match last night against Judith Wiesner.

It was supposed to be a day match but someone named Connors was playing ahead of her ...

Graf's wait was longer than her match as she defeated Wiesner of Austria, 7-5, 6-4, in 1 hour and 4 minutes and advanced to tomorrow's quarterfinals.

"I came here at noon so it was a long day of waiting," said Graf, the top women's seed. "In a way I wanted to get out there. But on the other hand it was quite interesting to see [Connors] come back."

During the final set of the 4:41 match between Jimmy Connors and Aaron Krickstein, Graf even offered to play on the Grandstand court.

"Yeah, 6-5 in the fifth set ... we would/could start on the Grandstand," Graf said. "And I said, 'Why wait that long?' But I am not going to leave the match. I wanted to see the ending of it."

In the quarterfinals, Graf will play Conchita Martinez, who ousted Zina Garrison, 6-4, 6-4. "She's playing quite well," Graf said of the eighth-seeded Martinez, a baseliner with a solid forehand.

Martina Navratilova defeated Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere, 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 6-2, and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario beat Natalia Zvereva, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to set up another quarterfinal.
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post #2345 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 3rd, 2012, 05:48 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I think I ve found a new (old) match to watch the one vs Shriver from 1985
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post #2346 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 4th, 2012, 01:20 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

U.S. Open Notebook : Graf Arrives--Too Bad It's on Martina's Court
September 06, 1985 | MIKE PENNER | LA Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Today's question of the day at the U.S. Open:

Who is Steffi Graf. . . . and what is she doing hanging out with Chris Evert Lloyd, Martina Navratilova and Hana Mandlikova in the semifinals of the women's division?

Good question.

Until Wednesday, when she upset Pam Shriver in three tiebreakers, Graf very well may have rated as the best tennis player you've never heard of.

And there are reasons for that.

First is Boris Becker. Graf and Becker share the same homeland, and when Becker won Wimbledon, everything else in West Germany was pretty much rendered irrelevant--despite Graf's sensational summer.

Then there is Gabriela Sabatini. The 15-year-old Argentine has monopolized publicity as the top newcomer to the women's tour because of her youth, her movie-star looks and her semifinal breakthrough at the French Open. But ranked at No. 11 in the world, just one position behind Sabatini, is Graf, who turned 16 in June.

And guess who checked out of the U.S. Open in the first round while Graf was just getting warmed up for her run through the bottom half of the draw?

Ted Tinling, an observer of women's tennis for more than 50 years, sees six teen-agers forming the future of the sport--Czechoslovakia's Helen Kelesi, Bulgaria's Katerina Maleeva, Mary Joe Fernandez, Melissa Gurney, Sabatini and Graf.

"Of the six," Tinling says, "Sabatini has the most talent. But Graf will emerge as the top player because of her mental approach. By the third game of the first set, she knows exactly what it takes to win the match."

Some quick facts about Graf:

--Turned pro in 1982 and became the youngest female player ever to earn a computer ranking when she was No. 214 at 13.

--Won last year's tennis demonstration at the Olympics. At 15, she was the youngest player in the field.

--Beat Sabatini in their only 1985 meeting, a semifinal match last month at Mahwah, N.J.

--Has qualified for the fourth round or better in each of her last eight tournaments. She reached the final at Mahwah and the German Open, the semifinals at Delray Beach, Fla., and Hilton Head, S.C., the quarterfinals at Amelia Island, S.C., and the fourth round at Wimbledon and the French Open.

Today, she makes her first appearance in the semifinals of a Grand Slam event. Her opponent will be Navratilova, the U.S. Open's two-time defending champion.

Graf and Navratilova have never played before. Navratilova admits her scouting report on the 5-5 baseliner isn't extensive.

"I haven't even played doubles against her," Navratilova said following her 6-2, 6-3 victory over Zina Garrison. "She's a baseliner, so I would do pretty much the same as I did against Zina.

"Her serve, I don't know how good it is or how much I would come in on it. But I would expect the same kind of match, hopefully, that I had against Zina. She'll probably be more nervous than I am because she's never been there and it will be all new for her."

In today's other women's semifinal, Lloyd will face Czechoslovakia's Mandlikova. Past performance would appear to indicate another mismatch.

Lloyd owns an 18-3 career advantage over Mandlikova, having won 14 of their last 15 meetings. In Grand Slam confrontations, Lloyd has a 9-1 edge.

Although Mandlikova has been extended to three sets just once in the first five rounds here, her countrywoman Helena Sukova says Mandlikova will have to raise her play another level to have a chance against Lloyd.

"I think that she'll have to improve a little more," Sukova said after losing to Mandlikova in the quarterfinals. "This will be her big chance. She'll have to play a little better."

Mandlikova agrees.

"She's right," Mandlikova said Tuesday. "I have to serve better. I have to return better. But I have two days to work on it and that's good."

As Sukova said, this is Mandlikova's big chance--to win her first Grand Slam title since 1981 and to shed the "choke" label she has worn since that victory at the French Open.

"I think Hana's real sensitive about that now," Lloyd said. "I think she's a lot more consistent than people give her credit for."

John McEnroe's tirade during his men's quarterfinal victory over Joakim Nystrom Wednesday earned him $1,500 in fines for "verbal abuse."

The Men's International Professional Tennis Council fined McEnroe for two violations. One was his dispute over a line call ("a bonehead call," said McEnroe). The other was a comment made to tournament referee Bob Howe. Arguing about the placement of a courtside television microphone, McEnroe called Howe "an incompetent idiot."

The fine lifted McEnroe's total to $6,200 for the year. If he surpasses $7,500--as he did in 1984--McEnroe will draw an automatic suspension.

It could happen here. There are two rounds left.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

It's No Slam, But Graf Beats Navratilova In Grand Style
September 10, 1989 | By JIM SARNI, Sentinel Staff Writer

FLUSHING MEADOW, N.Y. -- Steffi Graf won the Grand Slam here last year, and hardly cracked a smile. Graf was a picture of relief, not joy. The Grand Slam was over.

Graf won the U.S. Open again Saturday, but this time, she celebrated by eagerly running to the box seats with victory hugs for her father and coach.

Last year, Graf did what everyone knew she would do.

Saturday, Graf did what she knew she could do.

Graf beat Martina Navratilova 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, after Navratilova served at 4-3 in the second set.

Navratilova was two games from her first major title in two years, her first victory over Graf in two years.

That was as close as she came. Graf won 10 of the final 12 games to take her seventh title in a Grand Slam event in the last two years, and beat Navratilova -- the player she loves to beat the most -- for the third time in a row.

"It means so much more to win it again," said Graf.

The Grand Slam did not come with this title. That second swipe at history was missed at the French Open. But just barely. Graf was one game away from beating Arantxa Sanchez, before menstrual cramps struck.

Navratilova was two games away from beating Graf and claiming her 18th major title. Navratilova once won six majors in a row, but now she is zero for the last eight.

Navratilova put up two fingers to the crowd at 4-3 in the second set. She had to hold serve twice more, and the way she had been serving, that seemed certain.

But at 4-3, Navratilova doublefaulted twice and missed another ball. At 4- all, Navratilova failed to convert a break point. At 5-6, Graf broke at 15.

"I just didn't tighten the screws enough," said Navratilova. "I had chances to win, really good chances. I wasn't able to hold my serve when I really needed to. In the third set, Graf was a runaway train.

"I didn't play as well as I thought I would. I know how to beat Steffi, I just wasn't able to do that again. I came close."

Some people questioned Navratilova's nerves, whether fright takes over at the moment of might.

"I wasn't that close to be nervous," Navratilova said. "I think if I had been serving for the match, then you could say that. But I wasn't even thinking about being nervous. I was pretty relaxed for the most part. If anything, I was not concentrating."

Graf's nerves are like steel, as she proved again Saturday. Graf did not flinch when Navratilova made 71 percent of her first serves in the first set and 72 percent in the second set.

"I tried to hang in there and suddenly, I was returning better and I kept the ball in play," Graf said. "I fought hard."

Graf rallied to beat Gabriela Sabatini in three sets in Friday's semifinals, fighting off heat cramps at the end. Graf barely survived.

In another third set Saturday, Graf did not worry about anything.

"I knew it wouldn't be that easy," Graf said. "On the other hand, I was feeling very confident to win the second set. I said to myself 'Give everything.' If I get cramps at the end, it doesn't matter. Just try hard for it."

Graf did not win the Grand Slam again this year. She did not go 56-0 in the four biggest tournaments of the year.

Graf was 55-1, but that may be just as satisfying, because Graf beat Navratilova at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

"I don't think she really gave it to me, not like at Wimbledon, when she missed some easy points," said Graf. "I was fighting for this."

Graf has won three in a row against Navratilova and no one has done that since Tracy Austin won four in a row against Navratilova in 1978.

Navratilova is the player of the decade, but Graf may end up the player of the century. Navratilova won 15 tournaments in 10 years; Graf has won seven in two years.

"I don't think about losing the French Open," Graf said. "There was nothing I could do about it. I was sick at the end of the tournament, and I lost too much energy."

There was something Graf could do Saturday. Graf could outlast Navratilova.

"It helps having been there so many times recently," Navratilova said. "You get to that stage, so you know exactly what to do, because you've been doing it so many times.

"Whereas for me, it's like reading and writing. I've been there many times, but I haven't been there for awhile. I go back more from memory than instinct. I`m not discouraged. I know I can beat Steffi."

Box of Steffi Graf`s 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory in 1 hour, 51 minutes:

Graf Nav.

First serve pct. 65 67
Aces 5 2
Service winners 4 7
Double faults 4 5
Placement winners 35 31
Unforced errors 17 17
Services held 12 10
Services broken 2 4
Total points 88 84
Approaches to net 25 100
Points won at net 17 60


The best three-year spans for Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert:

Player Year Rec. Pct.
Navratilova 1982 90-3 .968
1983 86-1 .989
1984 78-2 .975
Overall 254-6 .977

Player Year Rec. Pct.
Graf 1987 75-2 .974
1988 73-3 .961
1989 69-2 .972
Overall 217-7 .969

Player Year Rec. Pct.
Evert 1975 94-6 .940
1976 75-5 .938
1977 70-4 .946
Overall 239-15 .941
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I wonder why the reporter went with "(bleeping) CBS" instead of the more professionally correct "(expletive deleted) CBS."

Graf Cramps Sabatini's Style
September 9, 1989| By JIM SARNI, Sentinel Staff Writer

FLUSHING MEADOW, N.Y. -- The Cramps were back on the prowl Friday at the U.S. Open.

The Cramps got Jay Berger in the quarterfinals. They almost got Jimmy Connors. Now, they were after Steffi Graf.

Graf led Gabriela Sabatini 3-6, 6-4, 5-2, when The Cramps struck the defending champion at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

At the changeover, Graf stood up and sprayed a coolant on both her legs. Graf was in trouble, but she won the final game, thanks, in part, to a pair of fortunate baseline calls and a broken string on Sabatini's racket.

Graf dropped her racket in disbelief after a marvelous backhand volley winner that ended the match. She shook Sabatini's hand at the net, then raced off the court, straight-arming CBS courtside reporter Lesley Visser. No time to talk; The Cramps are after me.

Graf got to the locker room, got some ice on her legs, got her rackets, and got out of the National Tennis Center in a big, black limo, in a big hurry. She looked as though she had gotten over the cramps.

Now, the big question is can Graf get Martina Navratilova in today's women's final?

"Stupid (bleeping) CBS," said an angry Pavel Slozil, Graf's coach. "Playing the final tomorrow. They don't care anymore. Steffi has to play again tomorrow. Is it fair?

"Thank God, she was strong enough to finish. I'm proud of her. I think she will be fine."

The U.S. Open is the only Grand Slam tournament that tortures the players with back-to-back semifinal and final rounds. The women play Friday and Saturday. The men play Saturday and Sunday.

CBS likes it this way, and the United States Tennis Association likes CBS' money.

"Whoever does the schedule is on drugs," said Navratilova. "It has absolutely no rhyme or reason. The schedule is tailored for TV."

Navratilova, the second seed, outlasted Zina Garrison 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 in Friday`s first semifinal to set up the second Grand Slam title showdown of the summer. Graf defeated Navratilova 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 at Wimbledon.

Navratilova said she is ready for Graf, better prepared mentally she was in England, but will Graf be ready for Navratilova? Tune in today -- sometime after the first men's semifinal between Boris Becker and Aaron Krickstein. It could be 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. -- on CBS.

"Steffi will relax tonight and we'll see how she feels in the morning," Slozil said. "Maybe, this is good. She won't have time to think about Martina."

Tournament physician Gary Wadler said that Graf responded "very nicely" to the post-match treatment, but would not speculate on Graf's fitness today. Wadler said cramps are "primarily a heat disorder, involving inadequate fluid and dehydration."

"It's not unusual at the U.S. Open," Wadler said. "It's happening more to the seeded players, so there's more attention."

Sabatini applied the heat early, winning the first set and leading 1-0 with a point from 2-0 in the second set.

Graf saved the break point and won the next three games to take control of the second set. Graf ran Sabatini ragged and finished her off in the final set, building a 4-0 lead, before The Cramps finished her.

"Graf was very, very beatable today," said Sabatini, who beat Graf at Amelia Island last April. "I'm a little angry because I had a chance to win."

"Steffi started very passively against Sabatini," Slozil said. "She hasn't played someone who hits topspin and she wasn't used to it."

Garrison, who upset Navratilova in last year's quarterfinals, put up another strong challenge Friday. Garrison led 4-3, serving, in the tiebreaker, but Navratilova responded with two perfect passing shots and two solid serves.

"When it got tight, I was able to come up with the shots," said Navratilova, a four-time U.S. Open champion, who will try for her 18th Grand Slam event title today.

"I lost a lot of confidence after the tiebreaker," said Garrison, who is 1-24 against Navratilova. "I didn't take advantage of my chances. I have to get more vicious. I feel I'm a champion player."
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post #2349 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 6th, 2012, 04:50 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

This is only marginally related to Steffi, but it has a lot good parts about the "behind the scenes at the WTA," even if the humor is very American-centric. Loved the IMG parts!

Sports of The Times; Graf's Back Aches, And Tennis Feels Pain
Published: September 11, 1994
New York Times

THERE goes the franchise. The trouble with women's tennis is that the best battles often take place off the court, but yesterday there were two gripping matches in the finals of the United States Open.

The arcane world of women's tennis could have done without the duel between Steffi Graf and her aching back, but the other match was delightful. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, the human trampoline from Catalonia in Spain, chased down enough balls to win her first major-major (Wimbledon or the Open) championship, 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

This match captivated the packed house of tennis fans that included Richard Ravitch, the baseball owners' front man who was appearing in public while baseball is dying. The fans were so thrilled by Sanchez Vicario's brave play that they even booed good old Tony Trabert for asking, on national television, heard all over the stadium, if Graf's back had bothered her.

Graf said she wasn't about to make excuses, and that was the sporting thing to say. But, of course, her aching, inflamed back still bothered her, as it has all summer. Why did Graf suddenly start flexing and stretching between points in the eighth game of the second set? Why did the trainer go out there during the change-over? Good question by Trabert. The fans should have booed Ravitch, instead.

Yesterday's exciting shift of fortunes made up for nearly two weeks of politicking off the court and massacres on the court. While Graf was pulverizing everybody, there was much better hand-to-hand combat going on in the back alleys of the National Tennis Center, people attacking each other with attache cases rather than racquets.

The public never got to see the best infighting. We only saw the flashes of distant fire and heard the rumble of distant artillery and saw the paper trail of skulduggery.

The combat must have been pretty good, since the International Management Group -- which has the fourth largest standing army in the world, according to Jane's Fighting Ships -- sent its assorted tanks, submarines, agents, snipers, lawyers, chemical-warfare technicians, medium-level carpet-bombers and fax machines and photocopiers rumbling right up to the borders with alarming neo-cold-war intensity.

For some strange reason, I.M.G. observed the Geneva Convention by calling a press conference on Tuesday to announce its plans to arrange a rival women's tennis tour. Since I.M.G. often simultaneously represents individual players, specific tournaments and corporate interests, running the whole tour seemed like the next logical move in their land-shark mind set. But suddenly I.M.G. pulled down its announcement for a press conference, and the war was waged behind the scenes.

By Friday, amidst the acrid fumes of gun powder and the lachrymose odor of tear gas, the Women's Tennis Council finally got around to naming its first chief executive officer, Anne Person Worcester, a seasoned insider of 34, who immediately began talking of restructuring the women's tour.

"I'd like to think our friends from the different management groups will be pleased with our plans," Worcester said. "I think they're frustrated by the lack of action."

Worcester also had kind words for Billie Jean King, who had been identified with the attempted coup. "Billie Jean and I have sat down and talked," Worcester said. "Billie Jean has given a great deal to the game; she's not really political."

None of this bureaucratic arm-wrestling reminded anybody of the good old days, when you had Court-King-Goolagong jostling for position, or Evert-Navratilova-Austin, or even the recent glory days when you had Graf and Seles, with Navratilova still dangerous and Capriati on the way up. Tennis needs its rivalries.

Graf gets bored with the easy matches and she had seemed to like the idea that Sanchez Vicario had a chance against her yesterday: "Well, you know, just the last two tournaments we played, we both played each other and it went each way," Graf had said on Friday, adding, "This court suits me better."

But that was only while Graf was able to scamper around the court. This is no nervous prima donna, feeling gagging motions in her throat. After the back began to hurt, Graf's first serves suddenly dipped from the low 100's to the mid-80's, and her mobility was limited.

"I don't like talking about it if I lose," Graf said in her news conference, but she added that she was going to see a doctor in Germany and take time off. She might have told Trabert that.

"I know she has a hurt back," Sanchez Vicario said, "but I never tried to think she was hurt."

If Graf is hurt, women's tennis is hurt. There aren't enough big-timers on the tour. Worcester said the women's tour must be restructured, fewer events, smaller events, so the best players are challenging each other. "I love the rank-and-file," Worcester said, "but your top players are the engines who pull the train."

During this dearth of talent, women's tennis has promised to stop devouring its young, by limiting the number of tournaments that women under 18 can enter. But the new rules conveniently begin in January, in time to include Martina Hingis, who turns 14 this month. Hingis is an I.M.G. client, but you already knew that.

Nothing against Sanchez Vicario, but she is at her best when matched with an excellent player. And there are not many of them around, what with Seles still reclusive following the ghastly stabbing in the back. The women's tour has botched its relationship with Seles; that might be among the first call on Worcester's yellow legal pad for Monday morning: "Monica, what can we do to get you back?"
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post #2350 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 6th, 2012, 05:52 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I just noticed that Ekaterina Makarova resembles Steffi quite a bit. She's taller and a little bit "thicker" shall we say, but there is a strong resemblance IMO.

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Q. Now that it’s over, if you go back and play with any player you’ve never played with in the past for the fun of it, who would you enjoy playing with?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Obviously for me, a dream that came true for me was playing Steffi Graf at Wimbledon when I was 16. That, to me, was like my biggest ‘wow factor’ on the tour.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Originally Posted by alfajeffster View Post
I just noticed that Ekaterina Makarova resembles Steffi quite a bit. She's taller and a little bit "thicker" shall we say, but there is a strong resemblance IMO.
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post #2353 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 02:09 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf Survives Fendick Scare, Rolls 6-4, 6-2
September 6, 1988 | By JIM SARNI, Sentinel Staff Writer

FLUSHING MEADOW, N.Y. -- Steffi Graf survived her first crisis at the U.S. Open Monday.

It wasn't really a crisis. More like a tiny scare. But it sent a ripple through the National Tennis Center.

Leading 5-3 in the first set, Graf dropped her serve and gave Patty Fendick a chance to even the match.

The folks in the jam-packed grandstand, where several seeds had tumbled during the frantic first week of the Open, urged the former Stanford All-America to give it the old college try.

Fendick reached 40-30 but couldn't get in the end zone. Graf made the goal-line stand, breaking Fendick for the set with a devastating crosscourt forehand.

Graf then finished off Fendick 6-2 in the second set, and the West German is now just three victories away from her Grand Slam.

The Monday holiday was a day of labor for many of the top players.

Defending champion Martina Navratilova was trailing 0-4, before she woke up and overwhelmed Elna Reinach 6-4, 6-1.

Six-time Open champion Chris Evert, the third seed, fought off feisty Austrian Judith Wiesner 6-2, 6-4. Down a break, 3-4 in the second set, Evert won the final three games.

Fourth-seeded Gabriela Sabatini outdueled Stephanie Rehe 7-5, 6-4.

No. 11 Zina Garrison rallied to beat Arantxa Sanchez 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. The Spanish teen-ager served for the second set -- and match -- at 5-4.

Seventh-seeded Helena Sukova got more than she could handle. Katerina Maleeva mauled the 1986 finalist 6-1, 6-3.

Maleeva's sister, Manuela, the sixth seed, and No. 16 Larissa Savchenko of the Soviet Union completed the final eight.

In Wednesday's quarterfinals, Graf faces Katerina Maleeva; Evert takes on Manuela Maleeva; Sabatini opposes Savchenko; and Navratilova meets Garrison.

"The first week was easy; now comes the work," said Graf, who dropped four games in her first three matches. "I got through a tough part when I won the first set (Monday). The crowd was behind her. She's American, I'm the No. 1 seed, and everyone is trying to stop me."

Graf said the pressure was on Fendick at 4-5.

"The other person is more nervous, because she has to win her game," said Graf, who has lost only one set in 25 Grand Slam matches this year, that to Navratilova in the Wimbledon final.

Fendick said she was not afraid to play the world's best player.

"I think 98 percent of the players who go against Steffi are scared to death," said Fendick, who has climbed to No. 22 in the rankings since turning pro after the 1986 college season. "They don't go out and stick to any kind of gameplan that makes sense. Why would you go in and hit to her backhand when you know she loves to slide in and hit crosscourt all day?

"Players get so scared. I've seen Steffi play matches where she makes her opponent look like they've never played tennis before.

"I got my butt kicked, but at least I tried to do something different. I didn't try to hit it everywhere everybody else does. I volleyed and kept coming in. I played her the right way, but I wasn't consistent."

Navratilova rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, then rubbed out Reinach, who spent the summer leading the Charlotte Heat to another TeamTennis title.

"I was in a daze when the match started because I woke up late from a nap," said Navratilova, who reeled off 10 games in a row. "I wake up at 7:30 in the morning and I don't get to sleep until 12:30 or 1 at night. So I take a lot of naps before matches."

Navratilova had to deal with a swirling wind on the Stadium Court. Evert also blamed the wind for Monday's close matches.

"The wind is an equalizer," she said. "You have to figure on two games a set if you're the favorite. If it wasn't windy, I don't think Martina would have gone four and two.

"Coming from Florida, I've always been able to play the wind a little better. It's probably tougher on serve-and-volleyers."
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I got the chance to hit a few balls with Patty on the courts of Golden Gate Park in SF back in the 80s. She was hitting with her father, who had the call of nature, and I just lucked out to be on the next court practicing serves and asked if she would mind hitting a few with me, as it was obvious she was a great player. I didn't find out until afterward when a friend asked me if I knew who that was I just hit with.

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #2355 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 2012, 02:53 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Sampras and Graf Follow Grueling Paths to Greatness
September 10, 1996
New York Times

It was just four months ago that Pete Sampras could not bear to set foot on a tennis court: tennis reminded him of the death of his coach.

It was just four weeks ago that Steffi Graf could not keep her mind's eye on the ball long enough to keep her shots on the tennis court: tennis can seem like a pointless game when your father is in prison, accused of mishandling your prize money.

But on the stormy final Sunday of the United States Open, both Sampras and Graf played tennis of such convincing caliber that they not only won the Open and solidified their spots as the undisputed top players in the world, but they also left themselves open to charges of being the two greatest champions of their, or any, era.

Both are now a mere handful of Grand Slams away from becoming the most prolific champions in the history of their sport: Graf needs four Grand Slam victories to pass Margaret Court's record of 24, and Sampras needs five to nudge Roy Emerson's 12 Grand Slams from the top of the record book. Each is fully capable of achieving those numbers sooner rather than later.

"The reality of it is that I learned over the years that I hate to lose and I'll do whatever I can to win, and if it's ugly, it's ugly, just as long as I win the last point," said Sampras, who cried as he won a rough quarterfinal at the 1995 Australian Open and retched as he scrambled out of another five-set quarterfinal at this year's Open. "People don't remember who comes in second, and now that I've won a number of majors, the more I want to win them."

Not in 50 years had the Open had both its men's and women's champion elbow their way back into the finals to defend their titles. Never had two champions crossed such a minefield of complications to reach that round: Sampras had to forget that his late coach, Tim Gullikson, would have turned 45 on Sunday had he not died of brain cancer in May. Graf had to forget that her father, Peter, was in his 13th month of imprisonment and first week of trial on tax-evasion charges from which she has not yet been ruled not guilty.

Graf was jubilant, and impervious to a thunderstorm that raged around her, as she accepted her reward for defeating her archrival and co-No. 1, Monica Seles, 7-5, 6-4, on Sunday afternoon. By design, Graf forced Seles into a running game with a barrage of powerful serves and forehands; by design, Graf, the gazelle of the two, won the race. The result was a reprise of what happened here a year ago in their only other meeting since Seles returned to the Corel WTA Tour following a traumatic stabbing incident. Besides proving that Graf and not Seles is the best player in the world, it also left Graf a perfect 6 for 6 in her last half dozen Grand Slams.

"To have played the last six Grand Slams and won all six of them, it's an incredible achievement by itself; I ain't looking any further than that," said Graf, who geared herself up for Sunday's slugfest by telling herself she was a better player than Seles. "I said, 'I think I'm better than her; I think I can make it happen.' "

But two hours after the match, Graf's hands were still trembling.

"I hadn't been believing I could do it because I had so many things on my mind, and really, I was afraid to come here," said Graf, who had left all her assertiveness on the tennis court. "Between my worrying about my father and trying to keep in touch with the lawyers, and then hurting my leg the first day I tried to practice here, it all knocked me down, it really did."

Graf gave herself just one night to savor this victory before flying home to Germany to tackle the mountain of paperwork that holds the answers to her convoluted legal affairs.

"I need to know what's going on to have peace with myself," she said as she shakily picked at a plate of pasta. "I feel like it's my responsibility to be a part of this, and that's why it was so hard to put it aside and come here and play well this tournament."

Several hours after Graf earned the most gratifying Grand Slam of her career, Sampras followed suit and captured his with an uncompromising 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) performance against second-seeded Michael Chang, who could have stolen Sampras's No. 1 ranking along with this title, which would have been Chang's first and only Grand Slam since he won the 1989 French Open at 17.

"The ranking was up for grabs, but I wanted the title," Sampras said. "It's not the money. It's not the commercials. It's the titles. That's what I'll be remembered for, and I think about that a lot."

Both victors said that this was the most difficult Grand Slam they had ever undertaken, and both said that they saved their best for last, that they somehow knew that that strategy wouldn't backfire. Champions always assume the last round is the one designed especially for them.

But that's not to imply that the 25-year-old Sampras, who now owns four Open titles, and the 27-year-old Graf, a five-time Open champion, took it for granted that Sunday would be their day. According to them, it has become precisely the opposite scenario: as they have gotten older, the acquisition of Grand Slam titles has become less of an exhilarating dream and more of an internal imperative.

Whether they prevailed out of sheer greatness, they left for others to say: neither Sampras, who protests that he is just coming into his prime, nor Graf, whose prime seems to be getting primer, is comfortable with that word, particularly when applied to them.

"When you're already a champion, a small part of it is habit," said Heinz Gunthardt, Graf's coach, of the finales. "The other part is wanting it and needing it."
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