Steffi even trash talks better! I don't know why they thought trying to make her upset was a good idea. Evert, the president of the WTA and undoubtedly one of the 111 players who voted to change the ranking system -- indeed one of the top people "pushing" for the change, is up next. Yeah, the tournament is just starting.
Plain to see an end to Martina's reign
San Diego, CA
Thursday, September 8, 1988
John Freeman, Tribune Sportswriter
Just because Martina Navratilova lost one measly match last night at the U.S. Open doesn't mean her career is over. Not necessarily.
But, clearly, Martina has lost the stranglehold she once enjoyed over the women's game, for this year anyway, and maybe forever.
That much was apparent last night as Zina Garrison, nothing more than an 11th seed here, overcame obvious shaky nerves to eliminate Navratilova 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 and advance to tomorrow's semifinal showdown against No. 5 Gabriela Sabatini.
That Martina lost wasn't as surprising as the way she lost.
Martina simply was not her old self.
Though Navratilova denied any nervousness, her style was awkward; her play was tentative. Except for her second-set comeback, when she was down 5-0 -- she was downright ordinary. She deserved to lose.
"She was really tight, very nervous," said Garrison, who scored her first win over Martina in 22 career matches. "There were some balls she usually hits and she couldn't get her body in position to hit them."
Even Martina had to admit she was vulnerable to an upset -- not only last night but all year long.
"If this year were a fish, I would throw it back in," said Martina, who will go without winning a Grand Slam event in 1988, the first time in eight years.
"Today I just played badly," she said, as if resigned to her fate. "She played really well."
No longer do Martina and Chris Evert rule the roost in women's tennis. Only Steffi Graf can make that claim. All others are merely also-rans.
Based on her dominance so far, Graf should go on to win the Open, thus clinching the first full-year Grand Slam since Margaret Court in 1970.
To purists, Martina's feat of winning the Australian Open in late '83 and then the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1984 does not count.
Not even to Graf, who yesterday said somewhat caustically: "I consider the Grand Slam in one year, from the beginning of the year to the end."
Take that, Martina.
As for Graf's breeze to the semis against Evert -- Graf has yet to lose a set or be the slightest bit challenged -- she blithely said: "For me it's more like the tournament is just starting."
Take that, everyone else.
Like Martina and Chris in years past, Graf has been Her Holiness -- unbeatable, untouchable, unbelievable.
Looking for faults in Graf's game? Katerina Maleeva, who was dismissed by Graf 6-3, 6-0 in only 58 minutes, was asked if she thought "Fraulein Forehand" had a weakness.
"Yes," said Maleeva. "She is a human being."
NOTES -- Evert, a six-time U.S. Open winner, gained the semifinals with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win yesterday over Manuela Maleeva, the older of the two sisters from Bulgaria.
Chris' semis berth marks familiar territory for her. That's where she has been halted the past four years. Tomorrow, she faces Graf.
"I'll be psyched up for this match," said Evert, 32, who admitted she has some difficulty psyching up these days.
"Sometimes in the first round, I don't want to get up and play a match, but I can still get through it," she said. "Every day, your whole life, you don't necessarily want to be out there."
Also yesterday, No. 2 Mats Wilander struggled early but then cruised to a 3-6, 7-6, 6-0, 6-4 win over Spain's Emilio Sanchez, who was unseeded.
Apart from his win, the blase Wilander was asked if he were looking forward to the Seoul Olympics. Apparently not.
"It's going to be interesting to watch the other sports," said Wilander, who along with Stefan Edberg will compete for Sweden. "But apart from that it's just another visa on my passport."
Also yesterday, Sabatini eased past Larisa Savchenko, an unseeded Soviet, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
The Savchenko match, played in the grandstand court, was marred by a cluster of rude fans who hooted when Savchenko double-faulted at a crucial point in the match.
Savchenko speaks limited English, but her coach, Olga Morozova, had this chiding remark: "I think people are supposed to be educated. In England I don't think you will ever hear the applause for the double fault."
Welcome to New York, Olga.
In tonight's featured match, No. 4 Andre Agassi goes against No. 6 Jimmy Connors. It could be the best match of the tournament, including the finals, no matter who makes it to Sunday.
Tracy Austin's U.S. Open "comeback" ended yesterday, as she and mixed doubles partner Ken Flach lost 6-2, 6-1 to Liz Smylie and Patrick McEnroe in a semifinal match. Austin won the Open singles title in '79 and '81, but has been out of competitive tennis for five years.
In last night's featured men's match, Australia's Darren Cahill fought off a challenge from Aaron Krickstein, winning 6-2, 5-7, 7-6, 5-7, 6-3. Cahill, one of the new Aussie wave, was unseeded, as was Krickstein.
The last unseeded player to reach the U.S. Open semifinals was Johan Kriek in 1980.
For clarity's sake, these are the remaining singles matchups: In men's quarterfinals singles, No. 1 Lendl vs. unseeded Derrick Rostagno and Connors vs. Agassi. In semifinals: Wilander vs. Cahill. In women's singles: Graf vs. Evert and Sabatini vs. Garrison.
Fashion plates watching Lendl's match tomorrow will notice that he has traded his trademark Adidas shirt with the squiggly lines for the firm, bold new look. A colorful boxed logo worn on the front and back of Lendl's shirt, and on his shorts.