Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2 - Page 189 -
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post #2821 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2013, 12:49 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

If video of this match or Steffi's post match press conference existed, it would be a Youtube classic. This kid is ready to play the US Open NOW, and being forced to endure one of the worst dawdlers ever must have been torture. Although it is hilarious from a distance.

Anti-fog glasses were available then, and even if Hanika was too cheap to pay for them, there are always the old scuba diving tricks of shampoo or saliva. I don't know why some of the other players can't understand that making Steffi angry does not work -- in fact, it has the opposite effect.

Graf Beats Hanika Very, Very Slowly
The New York Times
August 26, 1988

MAHWAH, N.J., Aug. 25 After one point, Steffi Graf sat in the corner in a chair reserved for the ball girls and fumed. Later, she blasted a ball so hard off the court that it bounced into the fifth row of the stands.

Graf was frustrated, but it had nothing to do with the way she was playing. The top-ranked player in the world was perturbed by Sylvia Hanika's deliberate style. Between virtually every point, Hanika exhausted the 30 seconds a player is allowed.

It worked to an extent, as the match lasted for 1 hour 22 minutes. However, when the ball was in play, Graf had little difficulty. She registered a 6-2, 6-1 victory in the quarterfinals of the $200,000 United Jersey Bank Classic at Ramapo College tonight before 4,128.

No Fun for Graf

''She was taking so much time between points that it really annoyed me,'' said Graf, who is a teammate with Hanika on the West German Olympic team. ''It was not easy to play against her. I like to have fun. You can't have fun when your opponent is cleaning her glasses after every shot.''

Hanika played the baseline and peppered Graf with a variety of shots to try to force errors. But Graf won eight of the last nine games of the match after Hanika closed to 4-2 in the first set.

''I was trying to mix things up on her,'' said Hanika.

With her quickness, booming forehand and court sense, Graf destroyed the strategy as the match progressed.

''I was pleased with the way I played,'' said Graf, who can complete a Grand Slam sweep with a victory in the United States Open next week. ''I would have been happier if it went a little faster.''

Hanika, who was seeded sixth in the tournament and is 16th in the world, defended her tactics.

Defends Delays

''Even for Miss Graf, there are rules in this game,'' said Hanika. ''A player has 30 seconds between points. I had problems because my glasses were fogging up. I didn't do anything differently than I normally do.''

Despite losing the last five games of the second set, Hanika was persistent. She registered a handful of shots that excited the crowd as they neatly floated out of Graf's reach, but she was not able to come through with the crucial shot. Graf did, emphatically.

''Half of of the points I missed were my fault,'' said Hanika, ''and half were good shots by her.''

In other matches, fifth-seeded Katerina Maleeva of Bulgaria defeated Bettina Fulco of Argentina, 6-0, 6-2, and Nathalie Tauziat defeated a fellow Frenchwoman, Julie Halard, 6-4, 6-1.

In the three quarterfinal matches tomorrow, third-seeded Helena Sukova will play eighth-seeded Stephanie Rehe, Tauziat will meet fourth-seeded Natalia Zvereva and Maleeva will take on Catarina Lindqvist. The winner of the Sukova-Rehe match will face Graf in the semifinals at 1 P.M. Saturday.

If Graf wins the singles title, the $40,000 first prize will put over the $1 million mark in winnings for the second time in her career.
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post #2822 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2013, 12:50 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

For the bleeping last time: "The receiver shall play to the reasonable pace of the server and shall be ready to receive within a reasonable time of the server being ready." You do not "get" 30 or 25 seconds between every point just because. The chair umpires, tournament referees/directors, and tour officials can and should put a stop to this, because it drives a lot of the fans just as crazy. And yes, Sylvia, people complained about Lendl, too -- he even got warnings every so often. Why is simply and consistently enforcing the bleeping rules (pace of play, grunting) that difficult?

If I had been Steffi, I would have been whipping out the rule book and shoving it in the umpire's face and/or into the TV camera lens. It's too bad she never yelled "You are destroying the tennis!" during matches against the worst stallers; it could have been her catch phrase. Her muttering slow burns and apex predator smiles were funny, too, but they were too subtle for most people to see.

The Record
New Jersey
Friday, August 26, 1988
Sherry Ross

Steffi Graf was obviously bugged.

If it wasn't the foot faults that were annoying her, it was the interminable delaying tactics of her opponent, Sylvia Hanika, or the swarm of insects nibbling at her legs.

Graf took care of the gnats with some bug spray, and of Hanika with a few swipes of her racket. Graf, the No. 1-ranked woman player in the world, moved into the semifinals of the $200,000 United Jersey Bank Tennis Classic Thursday night with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Hanika.

Graf and Hanika will be teammates on the West German tennis team in next month's Olympics, but they looked like anything but friendly rivals.

During the numerous stoppages, while Hanika wiped her face and cleaned her glasses, Graf paced impatiently, sat in exasperation on the boards lining the court, and at one point raised her arms beseechingly to the chair umpire. Outside of ordering Hanika to wear contacts, however, there was little the ref could do.

At one point late in the match, after yet another delay, Graf seemed to take out her frustration with a vicious smash on a forehand volley.

"It was very tough. She was taking so much time," said Graf. "I was really annoyed at the beginning. It was not easy to play against her. "

Although Hanika won only three games, the match lasted 1 hour, 22 minutes, almost twice as long as the usual efficient Graf masterpiece. This is the young woman who won the French Open final in just over 30 minutes. Hanika was within the rules, not exceeding the allotted 30 seconds between points, but time moved slowly for Graf.

"She was doing it on purpose," said Graf. "The way she's playing, you don't enjoy it very much. I don't know how she can enjoy it. I like to have fun on the court. I like to play tennis. If you just keep walking around, cleaning your glasses after almost every single point, I don't see how you can enjoy it."

Since the slowdowns seemed to get under her skin, Graf may be subject to more of those tactics in the future.

Among the interested spectators at Ramapo College were Mike Estep and Judy Nelson, two members of Martina Navratilova's advisory committee. Navratilova wears glasses when she plays, and if the two players should meet in a rematch of the 1987 U.S. Open final in two weeks, expect Navratilova to be a frequent victim of fogged glasses.

"Sometimes [other players] take their time, but not like this," said Graf. "It was destroying the tennis."

Hanika called Graf's comments "stupid," and added, "First of all, there are some rules for this game, even for Miss Graf, and those rules are that there are 30 seconds between points. I never came close to that. The most I took was about 20 seconds."

Graf did acknowledge that Hanika had been within the time boundaries.

"I had a problem with my glasses fogging up, and I had to wipe them after almost every point," said Hanika. "I did that in my other matches, too. Everybody has a right to play their own game. [Ivan] Lendl almost takes it to the limit every time, and no one complains."

Hanika's other strategies had less impact. At times, Hanika tried to wage a moonball war, dishing up floaters, heavy on the spin. Because of the lack of room in the end courts, Graf was unable to reach some shots she might have otherwise been quick enough to run down.

But for the most of the match, Graf was able to bring the shots down and played consistently well, with only a few lapses in concentration. Saturday afternoon, Graf will meet the winner of today's quarterfinal match between third-seeded Helena Sukova and No. 8 Stephanie Rehe.

NOTES In Thursday's draw for the U.S. Open, Graf was paired with Elizabeth Minter in her first-round match. She and Hanika could meet again in the Open in the round of 16, as Hanika is seeded 15th and is in the same bracket as Graf. Graf will be gunning for a Grand Slam at Flushing Meadow. . . Hanika, who played Navratilova last week at the Canadian Open, said, "I think Martina can still beat her. It's just a mental thing."
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post #2823 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

How tragic for a player to enter the court with this goal, tactic, seriously.

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post #2824 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2013, 04:18 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Originally Posted by djul14 View Post
How tragic that for a player to enter the court with this goal, tactic, seriously.
Hanika was one of the worst stallers. She would bounce the ball like 25 times before she served -- first AND second serves. There was/is no reason for it, other than to get on the opponent's nerves.

However, if you think this tactic is bad, wait until you see what they try on September 6-7 during the US Open.
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post #2825 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2013, 07:59 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I know Hanika, only by name, and some matches I saw, and I don't really wanna know much about her. See.

By the way :
"If you just keep walking around, cleaning your glasses after almost every single point, I don't see how you can enjoy it."
It makes me think of Arnaud Clement, couldn't watch him play as he was still cleaning his sunglasses (but not between every point). So I can easily figure how you feel, if it is after every single point.

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post #2826 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2013, 11:49 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Record
New Jersey
Sunday, August 28, 1988
Sherry Ross, Record Staff Writer

Coming from anyone else, it might have sounded like a boast, the kind of thing the gods used to strike down heroes for saying. But considering the source was Steffi Graf, the statement had to be taken as a simple expression of fact.

"If I play this way, then nobody can beat me," said Graf after a 50-minute, 6-1, 6-1 victory Saturday over third-seeded Helena Sukova in the semifinal of the $200,000 United Jersey Bank Tennis Classic.

Her opponent in today's 1 p.m. sold-out final, unseeded upset artist Nathalie Tauziat, confirmed Graf's status.

"When you play in a tournament with Steffi, it's `Who is Steffi going to beat in the final?' " said Tauziat, who is from France and ranked 34th in the world. "I will try to do my best."

Tauziat is 0-5 lifetime against Graf, the latest loss coming in the French Open, and has never won a set from Graf. However, after beating fourth-seeded Natalia Zvereva in the quarterfinal and No. 5 seed Katerina Maleeva in Saturday night's semifinal, Tauziat is on a roll.

"I was really tired during the match, but I really wanted to win. When you really want to win, you aren't tired. You play like a machine," said Tauziat after her 6-4, 6-3 victory over Maleeva. "I was confident because I beat Zvereva [Friday] night."

The 19-year-old Graf had only minor glitches in her game against Sukova. The West German had an occasional weak toss here, a backhand error there, but she never allowed Sukova to get her serve-and-volley game geared up.

"I was playing too well, and I thought it was going to be a much harder match," said Graf. "I expected her to play a little bit better, too, at least serve better. But in the first set she wasn't able to do anything because I was just passing her when she came in and playing so well from the back. I didn't make many errors, so it was tough for her. "

Sukova, ranked seventh in the world, could not be too upset with her loss because of the quality of Graf's play.

"I was trying to attack her second serve, not just put it into play but to prepare points," said Sukova. "That's why I was missing more. You have to go for your shots because if you don't, she's right there going for hers.

"At the start of the match I didn't think I'd have to come in for every point, but as the match progressed, I had to because she was just running me all over the court."

Graf has won 27 consecutive matches. At this week's U. S. Open, she will try to become the third woman in history (along with Maureen Connolly and Margaret Court) to complete a Grand Slam in the same calendar year. Graf would push her career earnings to just under the $3 million mark with the $40,000 first-place purse here.

Graf holds her composure well on the court, but in case you can't tell by watching, she is having one terrific time.

"This is why I'm playing tennis," she said. "To be able to play like this, and playing like this I don't care [at which tournament] it's a joy."

Even the pressure of the Grand Slam bid has yet to get to her, despite the considerable demand for interviews this week at Ramapo College.

"What distractions?" said Graf. "I'm not looking at [the Open] yet. I'm still here, and this is what I'm concentrating on."

NOTES Gigi Fernandez and Robin White defeated the top Soviet doubles team of Zvereva and Larisa Savchenko in Saturday afternoon's semifinal, 6-1, 6-2 . . . They face the winner of Saturday night's semifinal between Sukova and Jana Novotna and Tracy Austin and Stephanie Rehe.

Austin began a tennis comeback by playing doubles several weeks ago. She will be playing women's and mixed doubles at the Open . . . She has not played competitive singles since 1983, and may work her way back by playing exhibitions.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

TENNIS; Graf Wins Easily; Noah Upsets Lendl
New York Times
August 28, 1988

MAHWAH, N.J., Aug. 27 For a 19-year-old tennis player who is supposed to be feeling the pressure of being ranked No. 1 in the world, Steffi Graf has looked awfully comfortable this week.

Graf admitted before the start of the United Jersey Bank Classic at Ramapo College here that unrealistic expectations in her homeland of West Germany had taken their toll on her. But she has dominated this tournament despite constant reminders that the United States Open and a possible Grand Slam sweep are just around the corner.

Graf, who can become only the third woman to win the four major championships in the same year, disposed of Helena Sukova of Czechoslavakia, 6-1, 6-1, in 50 minutes today. She advanced to Sunday's final against the winner of tonight's Katerina Maleeva-Nathalie Tauziat match.

''When I play this way, no one can beat me,'' said Graf. ''If I'm playing this well, I don't care when it is.''

Graf was supposed to be tested by Sukova, the seventh-ranked player in the world. But the showdown never materialized in front of the capacity crowd of 4,128.

From the start, Graf used her forehand to pass the Czechoslovak, who tried unsuccessfully to come to the net and force Graf into errors. Graf broke Sukova's serve twice and won the first five games of the opening set before Sukova finally held serve. Graf then held serve, closing out the first set in 23 minutes.

''I felt I had to come in because she was running me all over the place,'' Sukova said. ''I had to put some pressure on her, but today I don't think she made any errors.''

Sukova's last hope was lost in the third game of the second set. With the set tied at 1-1, Sukova failed to hold serve and lost a 14-point game that seemed to take the life out of her. Graf proceeded to surrender only 3 points in the next four games.


JERICHO, L.I., Aug. 27 (AP) -Yannick Noah of France upset Ivan Lendl, 6-3, 6-2, today and reached the final of the Norstar Hamlet Challenge Cup tennis tournament.

Eighteen-year-old Andre Agassi of Las Vegas, Nev., joined Noah in the title round by defeating Boris Becker of West Germany, 7-6, 6-3.

Agassi, winner of 6 tournaments this year, has won 21 straight matches.

Lendl, who will be seeking his fourth straight Open crown to become the first player since Bill Tilden 63 years ago to win more than three in a row, shrugged off the loss to Noah.

''Losing to Yannick will have no effect at all,'' he said. ''This tournament is preparation. I've had good matches. He played good and if I played my best now I'd be worried.''

Noah served 11 aces, broke Lendl's service in a 10-point sixth game of the first set and twice in the second set, in the third and ninth games.

''It's a good win for me going into the Open,'' said Noah, who will face Agassi for the first time in Sunday's final. ''I haven't served this well in a long time, but I haven't played much tennis this summer.''

Agassi, who lost to Becker earlier this year, rallied from 30-40 in his first service game, and the two players stayed on service to the tie breaker.

Becker, who had given up only 7 points in his six service games, won the first point of the tie breaker.

Agassi then won 15 of the next 16 points, sweeping the tie breaker and reaching 2-0, 15-0 in the second set.


RYE BROOK, N.Y., Aug. 27 (AP) - Ramesh Krishnan of India defeated Horacio de la Pena of Argentina, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, today to gain the final in the Nynex Open.

Krishnan will oppose fourth-seeded Milan Srejber of Czechoslovakia in Sunday's final. Srjeber eliminated Diego Nargiso of Monaco, 6-3, 6-2.
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post #2828 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2013, 11:55 AM
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The Miami Herald
Sunday, August 28, 1988

There may be two Grand Slams in the U.S. Open tennis championships that begin Monday at Flushing Meadow, N.Y.

The first could happen if Steffi Graf loses her composure and bops someone for asking for the zillionth time: "Is the Grand Slam always on your mind?"

The second could occur Sept. 10, the day of the women's final and men's semifinals. If Graf wins, she'll complete only the sixth Grand Slam in history, sweeping all four major championships in a calendar year.

OK, Steffi, is the Grand Slam always on your mind?

"It's hard to put it out of the way," she said last week. "Everybody is thinking and talking about it."

No wonder. This hasn't happened in 18 years.

In 1970, Margaret Court became only the fourth player to win the Australian, French, Wimbledon and U.S. singles titles in the same year. She was preceded by Don Budge in 1938, Maureen Connolly in 1953 and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969.

But they didn't face the distractions that will confront Graf. As the Open is televised to 50 countries, the Grand Slam hype will build in the media and the public. How will she handle circumstances she has never faced?

"I thought Margaret Court's comments were appropriate," said Ted Tinling, who for 64 years has followed the game and now is international liaison to the Virginia Slims Series. "She said the pressure is put on you by people talking to you.

"She says you can't think about the Grand Slam. Margaret lost the middle set of her final match at the U.S. Open. She was so nervous she had to pull herself together.

"Steffi is very objective. She says she's not thinking about it. And she's in a position where she's so young (19) she can say, 'I've still got time if I don't win it now.' I believe that unless she's injured, no one can beat her. She's the best."

"If I play this well, I don't think anybody can beat me," Graf said Saturday, after winning her 27th straight match and a place in the finals of the United Jersey Bank Classic with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Helena Sukova. "I played very well and the only thing that I have to work on is my first serve toss."

She also may have to work on avoiding distractions. The question is whether Graf can block them out and play the U.S. Open as if it's the Citizen Cup in Hamburg, West Germany.

"I will, that's for sure," she said. "I have to concentrate every single match. I think the Grand Slam is a new thing, but at other tournaments, like at Wimbledon, I never had problems with it. So I'm sure I won't have any at the U.S. Open."

Her peers may not collectively gang up on her, but they're eager to try to stop Steffi's Slam.

"Martina is going to be pumped up," said Chris Evert. "I will be too, and so will Gaby (Gabriela Sabatini) and Pam Shriver. It is going to be a little added incentive to play the Open since Steffi is going for the Grand Slam."

Martina Navratilova knocked Graf out of the past three U.S. Opens, in the 1985 and '86 semifinals and the '87 final. If they meet this year, it will be in the final.

"Of course, she can be beaten," Navratilova said. "When I was winning, everyone was saying, 'Martina is unbeatable.' But I knew I wasn't."

Graf has lost only two matches this year, both in three sets to Sabatini, the topspin artist from Argentina and Key Biscayne.

"You have to play very good to beat her," Sabatini said. "You have to prepare mentally. That's important in my case. I think I have the game to beat her."

Shriver, the veteran who has proved to be better at articulating about the game than winning major titles, offered this analysis: "Three or four people are going to have to be playing well. Last year at the Open, you could see her confidence kind of waning. I got to her a bit in the quarters, Lori McNeil almost beat her in the semis and then Martina beat her convincingly.

"She's a very good front-runner. And if she plays well and has a good draw and gets through comfortably and is smashing that forehand all over the place, she's going to be tough to beat."

The draw indicates that Graf, who opens against 99th-ranked Elizabeth Minter of Australia and Deerfield Beach, will be tough to beat. She could play seventh-seeded Sukova in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Evert, whom she has beaten six straight times, in the semis.
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post #2829 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2013, 12:12 PM
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Oh, yes, the "Stop Steffi" movement. It was so much fun watching them trip over themselves, like the Keystone Cops. Steffi's mentality is to focus on the present and has the positive goal of achieving for herself. The "Stop Steffi" movement is thinking about the past, the future, all kinds of fantasy "if only this had happened instead of that" timelines, and has the negative goal of stopping Steffi, rather than achieving for themselves. It was obvious even then that Steffi would prevail.

TENNIS; Drama vs. Noise at the Open
August 28, 1988
New York times

In recent years, attention has focused on the negatives as many tennis players have come to view the United States Open as a necessary evil, such as visiting the dentist at least once a year. There are the jets thundering overhead, trains rumbling nearby, boisterous crowds, scheduling quirks and sticky, late-summer New York City weather, all of which make the Open unique, but also the most disconcerting of the Grand Slam tournaments.

The setting will be the same when first-round play begins at the Open tomorrow. Noise pollution remains a fact of life. But perhaps circumstances will make the surroundings less of an intrusion. Two weeks from today, fans and players may look back on this Open as the most memorable played in 11 years at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. This time, maybe no one will talk about the jet planes.

The primary reason is Steffi Graf. Center stage at the Open belongs to the West German teen-ager, who will be trying to become the first player since 1970 to win the Grand Slam. That year, Margaret Court of Australia, at the age of 28, swept the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and United States Open.

Among the men, Rod Laver won the Grand Slam twice, in 1962 when he was 24 years old and again in 1969. Don Budge, in 1938, and Maureen Connolly, in 1953, are the only other winners of the Slam.

The 'Stop Graf' Movement

Graf is a beginner compared with them, only 19, but already completing her second year as the top-ranked female player in the world. She has been a finalist at the Open the last two years, losing both times to Martina Navratilova. Now, Navratilova, Chris Evert and Gabriela Sabatini are part of the ''Stop Graf'' movement, those given any chance of spoiling Graf's plans.

''Martina and Pam Shriver and I all talked about it,'' Evert said. ''We'll try to stop her. All the girls will be extra conscientious about Graf.''

Neither the prospect of more highly motivated opponents nor the raucous surroundings figure to ruffle Graf. ''I'm sure the other players will be harder to beat,'' she said. ''They'll be psyched up. And the U.S. Open can be hot, windy and noisy, but that doesn't bother me.''

There are subplots in the women's draw, although none nearly as intriguing as Graf's pursuit of the Slam. Navratilova, for instance, will be trying to avoid a Grand Slam shutout. The last time she did not win one of the four major tournaments was in 1980. She has won 15 since then, among them 4 of the last 5 Opens.

Evert, who is 33, recently regained her No. 3 ranking. She has said she may retire if she wins the Open. She would probably have to defeat Graf and Navratilova, in that order, before anyone can hold her to her promise.

''I feel I have a chance,'' she said. ''I feel I'm being successful this year. I've been playing head-to-head with Martina.''

Then there is Sabatini, who has handed Graf her only two losses this year. They would meet in the Open final, but Sabatini would most likely have to defeat Navratilova to get that far.
Men's Draw a Muddle

If the focus of the women's competition is clear, the men's draw is a muddle of possibilities. The Open lives up to its name as a half-dozen or more players are capable of winning, led by Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg of Sweden, Boris Becker of West Germany, and Andre Agassi, the young tennis star American fans have been waiting for.

What's more, there is a chance that after almost four years, Lendl may relinquish his No. 1 ranking to Wilander, who won the Australian Open and French Open. Edberg, who is No. 3, is the Wimbledon champion; thus the Swedes are vying for a team Grand Slam.

Interestingly, it was Lendl who set out to win the Grand Slam this year, making it his primary goal. Injuries have slowed him down, however, and his Grand Slam dream died early in January, when he was beaten by Pat Cash in the Australian Open. Cash, the hottest player in tennis last year at this time, has cooled off considerably, and withdrew from the United States Open last week because of a foot injury.

Becker has won four tournaments and is a better all-round player than he was when he won Wimbledon in 1985. Agassi leads the men with six tournament victories this year, which enabled him to rise to No. 4 in the world. At 18, he is riding an emotional high. He is a favorite among the teen-age set, a player who has the style and temperament to use the Open crowds as a source of energy.

Yannick Noah of France, Miloslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia and Henri Leconte of France are more than just a supporting cast. They are among the most talented players in the game, lacking only consistency, and sometimes, resolve.

And then, there are Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, each still capable of playing into the second week, when anything is possible. A highlight of the tournament could occur in the quarterfinals, where Connors faces a potential match against Agassi.

McEnroe has a more difficult road, with Wilander a likely opponent in the round of 16. Barring an upset, Becker should reach the semifinals in the bottom half of the draw.

Lendl, though, can make all the speculation academic if he has regained his form, as his recent tournament victory in Toronto appeared to show. A fourth consecutive Open championsip would more than compensate for the disappointments he has suffered this year.
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Poor Steffi is just too rational for pro tennis, or at least pro tennis as run by the Sorority Sisters. While Martina says she wants to win it for herself, it will be clear her main priorities are stopping Steffi and talking about how she won the Slam, too. Shriver is the most amusing, forthrightly using variations on the phrase "get to her," as in mess with her head, get under her skin.

Can Graf Do The Slam Dance? U.S. Open Is Last Of Four Steps.
August 28, 1988

FLUSHING MEADOW, N.Y. -- Steffi Graf wasn't able to name the last Grand Slam champion when she was asked the question earlier this year.

But she knows the name of the next Grand Slam winner.

"Steffi Graf will win the Grand Slam if she doesn't break her leg," said Billie Jean King, who touted the West German as the next great player in women's tennis, after she first saw Graf play Wimbledon at 13.

"She has dominated the sport."

Graf, now 19, will become the fifth player to accomplish the most ambitious feat in tennis if she wins the U.S. Open, which begins Monday at the National Tennis Center. Graf won the Australian Open in January, the French Open in June, and Wimbledon in July.

The last hurdle could be a low hurdle. The oddsmakers at Caesars Palace have made Graf a 1-3 favorite to win the Open and join Don Budge (1938), Maureen Connolly (1953), Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) and Margaret Court (1970).

Martina Navratilova won the four titles in a row, but over parts of 1983 and `84. She cashed a $1 million Grand Slam check from the International Tennis Federation, but traditionalists didn't deposit Navratilova's feat in the bank.

"It's hard to put the Grand Slam out of my mind," Graf said last week in Mahwah, N.J., where she is playing the United Bank Classic.

"Everybody's thinking and talking about it, so it's hard to forget. It's difficult, but when you go on the court, you must concentrate on the match and forget about everything else."

Laver said, "The less she reads the paper, the better. The Grand Slam is more publicized than when I won it. She can't be defensive. She has to be aggressive, hit out and play her own game."

The Grand Slam has changed since Court won the last one. She won the French on clay and the other three on grass. Today, the French is still played on clay and Wimbledon remains on grass, but the Australian and U.S. Opens have switched to hardcourts.

"I think it's harder now to win the Grand Slam," Graf said. "You have to be a more complete player. But I am confident, because I have greatly improved my serve and backhand this year."

Graf has knocked down every challenge. She beat Chris Evert in the Australian Open final, surprising Natalia Zvereva in the French Open final, and eight-time defending champion Martina Navratilova in the Wimbledon final. Only Navratilova has won a set from Graf in 21 Grand Slam matches.

In 1988, Graf has lost two matches -- both to Gabriela Sabatini (Boca Raton, Amelia Island). Graf beat Sabatini when she had to, in the French Open semifinals.

By stopping Navratilova on the grass at Wimbledon, Graf proved she could win the big one. Last year, Graf lost to Navratilova in the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals.

Navratilova, who has won four of the last five U.S. Opens, may be Graf's toughest obstacle.

"My motivation is to win the U.S. Open for myself," Navratilova said after Graf prevented her from a record ninth Wimbledon championship. "It's not to stop Steffi from the Grand Slam. If she wins it, great job.

"Steffi can be beaten. It's a matter of execution. When I was winning, everyone said that about me. Everyone's beatable."

Pam Shriver, Navratilova's doubles partner, won't concede Graf the Grand Slam, either.

"Oh, definitely, Steffi can win the Grand Slam, but I have a sneaky feeling that she may not," said Shriver, who lost to Graf in the semifinals at Wimbledon.

"I think the U.S. Open surface is not as good for her as others. There are more players that can get to her on a hardcourt, like Sabatini. And Martina obviously could."

Graf has been the No. 1 player on the computer for a year, having taken over from Navratilova after the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles last August. Graf has adjusted well to the constant spotlight.

"I had more pressure last year when I became No. 1 and right before," Graf said.

"People were always following me around and I didn't feel very free. Now, I'm used to it and can handle it."

Graf has never won the U.S. Open. That could be a problem. Bjorn Borg conquered Paris and London, but never New York.

"If you have never won a tournament, you are never sure if you will win it, no matter how great you are playing," Navratilova said.

"There is no sure thing in tennis."

There is one sure thing at the U.S. Open. Graf will have to fight for every point.

"Knowing that Graf can win a Grand Slam has given players an incentive," Evert said.

But can anyone beat Graf?

"She's the best player in the world and will be for five or 10 years," said Budge, 73, who has been present Graf's three Slam victories this year.

"I don't see her not winning it."

The Grand Slam is not even the season's final for Graf. She still has the Summer Olympics on her calendar.

And remember, Graf also won the Lipton Internationals Players Championships, the "fifth" major, last March.

Graf says she hasn't thought about what it would feel like to win the Grand Slam.

"Not really," Graf said. "I'll think about it when I do it."
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Word On Graf: Having A Grand Time
Melissa Isaacson
The Orlando Sentinel
August 28, 1988

One year and three months ago, Steffi Graf won the French Open, her first major title. She had yet to advance past the fourth round of Wimbledon, the third round of the Australian or the semifinals of the U.S. Open. The word potential still was being used to describe her talents, and Martina Navratilova was still the No. 1-ranked player in the world.

Today, Graf, 19, stands on the brink of tennis immortality.

With a title at the U.S. Open, which opens Monday in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., Graf, of West Germany, will join only four other players -- American Don Budge, Australian Rod Laver, American Maureen Connolly and Australian Margaret Court -- who have won the Grand Slam Australian and French Opens, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in a calendar year.

Perhaps because it has come upon Graf so rapidly, or maybe because she is so young, the magnitude of the achievement seems to escape her for the moment. ''Everybody is thinking and talking about it,'' Graf said last week. ''It seems that I have a chance, but if I'm going to do it I can't say until afterward.''

After breaking Navratilova's string of consecutive Wimbledon singles titles at six in July, Graf has taken it relatively easy. Aside from an exhibition in Tokyo, a clay-court tournament in Hamburg, West Germany, and accelerated practice the past few weeks, Graf has played very little since Wimbledon. Part of that was because of a dog bite by one of her beloved pets.

She spent part of her off-time recovering from the bite, relaxing at Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, where she is the touring pro. Her family is building a home there. It will be more of a retreat for Steffi, who still returns to her birthplace in Bruhl, West Germany, whenever possible.

''You always need time to get away, to do something different,'' Graf said. ''It was a lot of pressure. Not pressure on court, but there were things outside tennis and after Wimbledon. There were a lot of interviews and a lot of other things, and you really feel like getting away from all the people.

''Playing tennis and everything is much easier than what's all around it. Like in Germany, my matches didn't last as long as I was giving autographs or interviews afterward.''

Graf has been lauded for her ability to brush aside opponents in as much time as it takes some people to brush their teeth. She has also, however, been criticized for it. And it has bothered her to the point of making her consider changing her game.

''It did cross my mind, like when I was in Berlin in May and winning very easily and playing very, very fast,'' Graf said. ''At the end of a match, I always try to do different shots or play a long rally or come in. I've lost a few games doing that, and nobody was very happy about it.

''Then in Paris, I was beating Natalia Zvereva, 6-0, 6-0, and they were saying, 'Why didn't you give her a game?' Again, what the hell? What can you do? Now I'm just playing as well as I can.''

As well as she can is almost scary. Graf's forehand is widely acknowledged as the best in the women's game and is often compared with some of the best men's. Her backhand, once a liability, has caught up, if not in power then certainly in control.

With her athletic ability, she is capable of coming to the net and, in fact, demonstrated a lethal volley at Wimbledon, but she rarely needs to use that skill. And with a powerful serve to top it off, Graf has it all.

At Wimbledon against Navratilova, Graf was relentless, prompting the eight-time champion to offer a heartfelt concession after the match. ''I didn't succumb to emotions today,'' Navratilova said. ''I succumbed to a better player. . . . But this is how it should have happened. If you have to lose, you might as well lose to the better player on the final day and pass the torch, if you can call it that.''

You definitely can call it that. But though Navratilova was willing to concede that Graf was the better player, she might have a harder time with the whole business of the Grand Slam.

Navratilova won six Grand Slam tournaments in a row in 1983 and 1984, but traditionalists say she did not earn the Grand Slam because the victories did not come in one calendar year. The International Tennis Federation awarded Navratilova $1 million for the feat, and the Women's International Tennis Association, of which Navratilova serves on the board of directors, concurs that it was indeed a Grand Slam. At the very least, put an asterisk beside it. Graf, who will travel to Seoul, South Korea, for the Summer Olympics almost immediately after the U.S. Open, could end up winning the Grand Slam and copping a gold medal all in the same year. ''That's going to be really tough, going to Seoul so soon after,'' Graf said, ''but still I'm really looking forward to it.''

Graf, who is extremely close to her father -- who taught her the game -- and to her mother and younger brother, is often asked about her lack of friends on tour. It is not that Graf is unfriendly, but rather very competitive and also very private. Besides, how many other players are still around when she is finished with a tournament -- almost always the day after the final?

Graf contends that she has not missed anything by not leading the typical life of a teen-ager. ''I've had a chance to do everything I wanted to do; I'm not playing tennis all day,'' said Graf, who counts Bruce Springsteen among her heroes. ''Most of the time, I'm playing four hours a day, so I have enough time to do everything else. I'm not constantly thinking about tennis.''

Although 100 percent of the people responding to a recent poll in Germany know who Graf is, Graf said she still doesn't always feel appreciated. ''In Germany, it's hard to be good at something,'' she said. ''People get bored I guess. . . . I don't know what they want anymore, but I'm learning to ignore them.''

For Graf to keep up her dominance into the '90s (she has said she won't play past her late 20s), Margaret Court, the last person to win the Grand Slam (in 1970), said it will depend not so much on Graf's competition as her motivation.

''There seems to be one or two there with Steffi at the moment, but if no one is there in the future to push her too much, it will depend on her morale,'' Court said.

Already this year Graf has earned $1 million in prize money alone. In her career she has earned nearly $3 million and countless more on endorsements. Though she is not materialistic -- her hobbies still include collecting T- shirts and shorts -- Graf is no dummy either.

''I feel very secure,'' she said. ''It's a good feeling when you know that you don't have to worry about money anymore.... The tennis life is not such a bad life.''
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

In this match, Steffi's backhand, slice and topspin, was doing just as much damage as the forehand. Maybe Tauziat was tired or nervous, but she had a lot of trouble coping with the slice and the result was a lot of balls in the net. Neither could she handle Steffi's serve. It's one of those matches where, despite the fact that Tauziat has excellent ground strokes and good foot speed, Steffi makes the opponent look like she has never played tennis before, to borrow Patty Fendick's line again.

TENNIS; Graf Remains On a Roll
New York Times
August 29, 1988

MAHWAH, N.J., Aug. 28 Displaying a dominance like that of a champion prizefighter in the ring against an overmatched contender, Steffi Graf won another title today. The 19-year-old West German routed Nathalie Tauziat of France, 6-0, 6-1, in 41 minutes to win the United Jersey Bank Classic and enter the United States Open on a roll.

Graf lost only eight games in the four matches she played here and left her opponents' pride and spirit bruised as badly as the bodies of Mike Tyson's challengers. Her $40,000 as the winner put her over the $1 million mark for the year.

Graf, the No. 1 player in the world, is at the top of her game, using her backhand as the set-up jab and her forehand as the knockout hook. She enters the most important tournament of her life at a perfect time. ''I can't play much better than this,'' she said after the match.

If she wins the Open, which begins Monday, she will become the fifth player to take the Grand Slam and the first since 1970. Graf will play 99th-ranked Elizabeth Minter of Australia in the first round.

Quick Decision

Today, Graf left Tauziat devastated before a sellout crowd of 4,128 at Ramapo College. The 20-year-old managed only 9 points in the first set, which took 16 minutes.

''I had to take some chances in the first set, but it was difficult because she is so fast,'' said Tauziat, who earned $18,000 by reaching the final. ''I tried to be aggressive for this match. I tried to charge the net, but she passes so well that I couldn't.''

''She took a lot of risks in the beginning, but that is very hard to do,'' Graf said. ''Very few people can do that to me. It is not a good choice.''

It was the fourth meeting of the year between the two women, and the sixth over all. Graf has won them all. ''She has topspin on her backhand now,'' said Tauziat, explaining how Graf has improved since their first meeting in 1986.

Forehand Is Special

But Graf's forehand sets her apart. She used it today fiercely, snapping for winners time and again against her opponent's second serves. Graf's serve was strong. She had two aces and lost only 8 points while serving.

With her victory, Graf's record this year became 54-2, including championships at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, the first three legs of the Grand Slam. Her only losses were to Gabriela Sabatini, the 18-year-old Argentine.

Despite losing today, it was a successful tournament for Tauziat. Ranked No. 34 in the world, she scored upsets over highly ranked Natalya Zvereva in the quarterfinals and Katerina Maleeva in the semifinals.

After the singles match today, Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova defeated Gigi Fernandez and Robin White, 6-3, 6-2, to take the doubles title and a $12,000 prize.

Streak Goes On

JERICHO, L.I., Aug. 28 (AP) -Second-seeded Andre Agassi continued his winning ways today, defeating fourth-seeded Yannick Noah of France, 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, to capture the $190,000 Hamlet Challenge Cup.

Agassi, who ranks fourth in the world, has now won 22 consecutive matches.

Agassi, 18, of Las Vegas, Nev., who is seeded fourth in the United States Open, won $40,000 today.

Agassi, who will play a qualifier in his first round at the Open, said, ''I'm ready for the Open, as ready as I'll ever be.''

Srejber Wins

RYE BROOK, N.Y., Aug. 28 (AP) - Milan Srejber of Czechoslovakia, who was seeded fourth, defeated Ramesh Krishnan of India, 6-2, 7-6, today in the final of the $123,400 Nynex Open to capture his first Nabisco Grand Prix title.

The 24-year-old Srejber, deadlocked at 4-4 in the tie breaker, won the final 3 points to close out the match.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The crowd was not exactly torn between sympathy and admiration. This is another of those "sound of silence" matches. The biggest bursts of applause happen when Tauziat gets on the scoreboard and when Steffi hits a questionable ace, but waves off the call and takes a second serve (Steffi wins the point anyway). Not helping things for Tauziat is that it's fairly windy, and her pleated skirt is billowing like poorly trimmed sail, while Steffi's wrap-around skirt drapes like an ancient Greek khitōn, making her seem even more like Atalantē stepping straight out of mythology.

The Record
New Jersey
Monday, August 29, 1988
Sherry Ross, Record Staff Writer

There have been hockey fights that were less brutal than the Steffi Graf-Nathalie Tauziat final at the United Jersey Bank Tennis Classic Sunday afternoon.

But no linesmen stepped in to break up this one, and instead of a penalty, Graf got a $40,000 check for her 6-0, 6-1 thrashing of the 20-year-old Frenchwoman. The sellout crowd of 4,128 was torn between sympathy for Tauziat and admiration for the domination by Graf.

At least it was mercifully short 41 minutes as Graf played as if she had left her car parked on Route 202 with the motor running.

Tauziat, ranked No. 34 on the Women's International Tennis Association computer, was a decided underdog against the best woman player in the world, and perhaps one of the best of all time. At times, it seemed as though Graf were enjoying a practice session, trying drop volleys and net play for no other apparent reason except to alleviate boredom.

No one lost any teeth or blood, but:

- Graf lost only nine points in a 16-minute first set.

- She lost 15 points in a 25-minute second set.

- Graf won four games at love, including one off Tauziat's serve.

- Tauziat had only one game point, which she won for her only game.

"She plays fast," said Tauziat. "At this time she is really good because she has to play the Grand Slam, and she is very confident. "

Graf will be bidding for the fourth leg of the slam at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadow, where play begins today. The UJB Classic was intended as her Open warmup, and Graf couldn't have hoped for a better prep. She lost only eight games in the tournament.

"I would say it was perfect," said Graf, who will face Elizabeth Minter in her first-round match, probably Tuesday. "I didn't have too many hard matches, so I wouldn't get tired going into the [Open]. I'm fresh going into the tournament, knowing that I played my best. It's just up to me now. I have not been tested very much, but I don't mind.

"I can't play very much better," said Graf.

And there might not be a woman in the world who can stay on the court with Graf when she plays as well as she did at Mahwah. Graf defeated Arantxa Sanchez, Sylvia Hanika, and Helena Sukova en route to her eighth tournament victory of 1988.

Graf, 19, could accomplish a historic double this year. A victory in the U.S. Open would make her the third woman in tennis history to win the Grand Slam (joining Maureen Connolly and Margaret Court), and she could go on to win a gold medal at the Olympics, where she will compete for West Germany. Graf won a gold medal in Los Angeles in 1984, when tennis was a demonstration sport.

Gabriela Sabatini is the only player to beat Graf this year, and theirs appears to be the rivalry of the future. Sabatini, who is Graf's frequent doubles partner, is seeded fifth at the Open, and could meet Graf in the final.

"Gaby [Gabriela] is the one who has beaten me twice this year," said Graf. The losses came in March and April. "At that time I was a little bit tired."

Tauziat was appearing in only her third final, having won a French circuit title in Limoges in 1987 and lost one at Nice earlier this year. She had never beaten two top-ranked players in one tournament in her career until this year's UJB Classic. Her victims at Mahwah were fourth-seeded Natalia Zvereva (ranked eighth in the world) and fifth-seeded Katerina Maleeva (ranked No. 15).

NOTES The top-seeded doubles team of Helena Sukova and Jana Novotna defeated Robin White and Gigi Fernandez, 6-3, 6-2, in the final Sunday afternoon. Sukova and Novotna defeated Tracy Austin and Stephanie Rehe, 6-3, 6-1, in Saturday night's semifinal. The winning team earned $12,000.

Graf, who won here in 1986 and was runner-up in 1985, indicated she would like to return next year to defend her title.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Steffi's grand-slam serve; Next: Golden slam, with Olympics win
Monday, August 29, 1988
Doug Smith

Cool and steady, young Steffi Graf recently exchanged volleys with a mass of reporters with the same degree of confidence she uses to smack the tennis ball.

Someone asked if the West German would retire if no one came along to challenge her.

In slightly-accented English, she replied: "Sometimes I get bored, but when I go on the court, I'm not thinking about retiring. I'm only 19!''

Blushing, she giggled uncontrollably, acting for all the world like a carefree teen-ager instead of an extraordinary athlete who soon may earn a special place in sports history.

For more than a year, Graf - seeded No. 1 in the world - has been the dominant force in women's tennis.

And with the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon under her racquet, she only has to win the U.S. Open - beginning today in Flushing Meadow, N.Y. - to become the third woman to join the grand slam club.

Only four players have won the four major national titles in a season, beginning with Don Budge in 1938. Maureen Connolly won in 1953, Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969, and Margaret Court swept in 1970.

"I think she's going to win, but I think she's going to have some tough moments,'' says former U.S. Open champion Arthur Ashe. "I want to see if that Teutonic demeanor of hers unravels a bit.''

Says Graf: "I'm sure it's going to be hard because everyone is going to be psyched up to beat me.''

A U.S. Open title also would make it possible for Graf to capture the golden slam - the four major titles plus a gold medal at the Seoul Olympics, where tennis will be a medal sport for the first time since 1924.

That, too, would be a significant achievement, she says.

"But for myself, I'm thinking just about the U.S. Open,'' says Graf. "This is far more important to me. The grand slam is something special, something harder to achieve. Martina (Navratilova) and Chris (Evert) were so dominant, but they never did it. It's strange. ... I'm on the way to doing it and they never did.''

Graf's ascension coincides with the decline of No. 2 Navratilova, 31, and No. 3 Evert, 33, two of the game's all-time greats. Navratilova defeated Graf in the final of last year's U.S. Open, but lost to her at this year's Wimbledon.

Says Evert: "Steffi's serve is matching Martina's, and she moves better. She's ironed out all of her weaknesses and gotten muscular. She's developed into a wonderful athlete.''

Argentina's Gabriela Sabatini, 18, handed Graf her only two defeats this year - but Graf says Sabatini's limited stamina could prevent her from becoming a serious rival.

"Gaby is always going to be tough on clay, but you can see that she sometimes gets tired during tournaments,'' says Graf.

Says Budge, first grand slam winner: "If she retains interest, I could see Steffi winning the grand slam two or three times. But you never know if she's going to be distracted.''

Distraction is not a problem now. When Graf isn't playing tournaments, her coach, Pavel Slozil, works with her four hours a day.

"There has not been one day in the last 20 months that I have had to tell her she had to practice,'' he says.

Peter Graf taught his daughter to play tennis in Bruhl, their hometown, when she was 4 years old. Three years later, he became convinced she could be a pro.

He sold his insurance and car businesses to build a tennis club to insure she'd be able to practice year-round.

He guided his daughter's career like a protective father - and was often at odds with women's tour officials, particularly when he believed his daughter was overcommitted.

Today, he makes sure she plays no more than 15 tournaments a year.

"I think my father has done an unbelievable job and I say that not only because I'm his daughter,'' says Graf. "I see many young players playing too many tournaments.''

Says Peter Graf: "I wanted to take all the pressure off Steffi and put it on my shoulders.''

Even before her drive to the slam, Graf and compatriot Boris Becker, the world's No. 5 men's player, were treated like national treasures by their home country. A large West German press cadre cover Becker and Graf wherever they play.

"Tennis was nothing in Germany before Boris and Steffi,'' says Conny Konzack, a West German free-lance journalist. "Now it's become a big, big deal.''

But the limelight has generated more pressure. Graf says some members of the West German press and some tennis fans complain when she wins too easily - and complain when she loses.

"They don't know what they want,'' she says. "I have to think about my own life and do what's best for me.''

Graf often is mobbed in West Germany, but says she has more freedom moving about in the USA.

"I was in Florida for 10 days and very few people recognized me,'' she says. "I went to the movies, water skiing. It was perfect. It was very nice.''

Graf earned more than $1 million in prize money last year and has already nearly matched that this year. Her endorsements, which include Adidas shoes and clothes and Dunlop rackets, add about $4 million more to her annual income.

And says Phil de Picciotto of Advantage International, one of Graf's representatives: "In the last few months she's gotten about 100 new opportunities for endorsements.''

But beyond the increased attention and wealth, Graf is still a teen who loves to play with her dogs at home with her parents and brother, Michael. While at the Open, she and the family are staying with friends in Saddle River, N.J. Saturday night, after second helpings of Hungarian chicken, it was her job to clear the dinner table.

There are some perks, she notes, smiling. She met pop singer Michael Jackson recently while vacationing in Spain. "He was very nice,'' Graf says. "He didn't ask me about the grand slam.

"It's a difficult life he leads. There is always so much security.''

She refuses to form any off-the-court friendships with any contemporaries on the pro tour.

"In a way I feel I'm older than the others,'' she says.

And after tennis?

"One year I want to work with animals, the next year I want to build a hotel. I want to have kids, that's for sure. The reason I'll stop playing is because I will want to get away from it. I'm a perfectionist, always trying to do my best.''

There is no special fellow - yet. But Daddy Graf says he knows the day will come.

"I tell her: 'If you know he's the right man, please take him and don't let him go.' But he must understand the work Steffi does. If this man or boy understands sports, then all is OK.

"She is old enough, I think. She doesn't need me as much as before.''
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf begins final step to grand slam
Monday, August 29, 1988
Doug Smith

NEW YORK - The U.S. Open marks the 20th anniversary of open-era tennis today with Steffi Graf gunning for a grand slam and Ivan Lendl after his own record four-bagger.

Graf has won the Wimbledon and Australian and French open titles and must win the U.S. Open to become the fifth player to win the four major titles in the same calendar year.

"I don't have goals in terms of winning grand slams or setting records," Graf said. "I just try to get as good as possible."

Lendl is seeking a record fourth consecutive Open title.

"Four in a row would be nice, but I'm not really thinking of that," he said.

Tennis became a full-fledged pro sport in 1968 when the U.S. National amateur championships became the U.S. Open and open to pros.
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