Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
Lori McNeil was one of those rare opponents who was prepared to play the tennis equivalent of a sword duel on a yard arm of ship caught in a giant maelstrom or a light saber duel over an active volcano. More than once, Steffi would publicly wonder why Lori didn't have more success.
Graf edges McNeil
Sunday, OCTOBER 30, 1988
Houston Chronicle News Services
BRIGHTON, England - Pam Shriver's hopes of a revenge match with Steffi Graf were dashed by a stomach virus when she withdrew during the semifinals of the $250,000 Midland Group championships.
After the top-seeded Graf had struggled to beat Lori McNeil 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the first semifinal, Shriver was forced to retire when she was trailing 6-7, 1-2 to Bulgarian Manuela Maleeva.
The 19-year-old West German had beaten Shriver in the semifinals at Wimbledon. On Friday, the second-seeded Shriver said the only way to close the gap against the all-conquering Graf was to play against her as often as possible.
But the American never got a chance and looked uncomfortable for the 70 minutes she was on court against Maleeva, making anguished faces whenever she missed a shot.
"She didn't seem too bad during the first set, which lasted 54 minutes,'' said umpire Tony Little, "at 1-2 in the second she came up to the chair, said that she was feeling dizzy and could not continue.''
In the earlier match, Graf had been made to struggle far harder than expected by McNeil before posting her 43rd consecutive win and the 69th out of 71 matches this year.
The Houstonian, who had taken a set off Graf in all three of their previous matches, threatened to upset the Grand Slam and Olympic champion after fighting back in the second set.
"Lori hits the ball deep and flat and it is difficult to go in against her,'' Graf said. "I'm relieved to have won because I had a bad feeling about the match this morning. Once in a while you play badly, but I do not think it has anything to do with my long year. Lori just has a difficult game.''
McNeil, who will play against Britain in the Wightman Cup match at the Royal Albert Hall next week, started well but lost four consecutive games and the opening set.
She attacked hard in the second set, cutting out unforced errors, and took the decisive break in the 12th game to level the match.
The fifth-seeded American stayed with Graf until 4-4 in the final set. But with an upset growing ever closer, Graf gained a crucial break and then served out the match.
Gilbert, Mansdorf meet in rich Paris final
PARIS - Brad Gilbert and Amos Mansdorf advanced to the final of the world's richest indoor tournament by winning semifinals Saturday at the $1.1 million Paris Open.
Gilbert, ranked 23rd in the world, reversed last year's defeat at the Paris Open by beating fellow American and the No. 2 seed, Tim Mayotte, 7-5, 6-3. Mayotte was the last remaining seed in the event, in which $262,000 goes to today's winner.
In the other semifinal, Israel's Mansdorf edged Switzerland's Jakob Hlasek, ranked 25th in the world, 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-2).
Mayotte beat Gilbert in the final of this tournament last year and had beat him all five times they had met, including the Olympic semifinal.
"The last two or three times he beat me he served better,'' Gilbert said. "His first serve today wasn't that good and that gave me confidence.''
Gilbert dominated the play. Mayotte, usually a good server and ranked No. 8 in the world, was broken five of the 11 times he served and had five double faults.
Mansdorf won a see-saw tie-breaker in the first set of the semifinal against Hlasek. Mansdorf went out to a 6-3 lead, but Hlasek took the next four points in a row to reach set point at 7-6.
Mansdorf held off that one and another set point before taking three points in a row to win the tie-breaker, 10-8. The pair went to another tie-breaker in the second set.
"We always have close matches because we have similar styles,'' Mansdorf said. "Two years ago in a Davis Cup match I beat him 12-10 in the fifth set.''
Nijssen defeats Connell
BERGEN, Norway - Unseeded Tom Nijssen of the Netherlands outclassed No. 8 seed Grant Connell of Canada 6-3, 6-1 to win the $15,000 first prize in the $75,000 Bergen Open tournament. Connell earned $7,500.
Connell, a former Texas A&M player, also lost last year's Bergen Open singles final, to Patrick Kuhnen of West Germany.
Becker in Masters
NEW YORK - Boris Becker, on the strength of his victory last week in Tokyo, has become the fourth player to qualify for the $750,000 Nabisco Maters.
Becker currently sits in fourth place in the Grand Prix singles standings with 4,316 points. This marks the fourth consecutive time Becker, soon to be 21, has qualified for the tournament. Others who have qualified are Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg and Andre Agassi.
This year's event is scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 1.