Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
11TH-GRADER OUSTS SABATINI AT SLIMS
The Miami Herald
Friday, March 5, 1993
Lindsay Davenport was all smiles two days ago while telling someone she and doubles partner Chanda Rubin had lost to Mary Joe Fernandez and Zina Garrison-Jackson, seeded fifth in the Virginia Slims of Florida.
It was as if Davenport was happy to have just played two tour veterans. Davenport, after all, is only a 16-year-old high school junior from Murrieta, Calif.
The smile was even bigger Thursday. She played third-seeded Gabriela Sabatini, 22, another tour veteran and a three-time winner of this event.
"I'm still excited," Davenport said, beaming 15 to 20 minutes after her 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory on stadium court at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. "I wasn't sure what was going to happen."
"When I got up 5-love (in the second set), I started feeling real nervous again. But I'm real excited. I just don't know what to do right now."
Neither does Sabatini, who said a lingering virus might knock her out of the Lipton Championships next week.
Davenport's was the second upset of the day. Unseeded and 34th-ranked Barbara Rittner of Germany defeated No. 9 seed Natalia Zvereva of Belarus, 6-3, 6-1, earlier.
Winning with ease were the other seeded players in action Thursday -- Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (2), Mary Joe Fernandez (4), Anke Huber (5), Garrison-Jackson (7) and Amanda Coetzer (8).
To no surprise, Davenport, who just turned pro last week, was the talk of the day. She was to have been like 15-year-old Croatian Iva Majoli, a young wannabe in over her head against someone superior. Majoli, who beat No. 11 seed Gigi Fernandez in the first round, played top-seeded and defending champion Steffi Graf on stadium court before Davenport's match. Graf won, 6-2, 6-2, in 54 minutes.
"It was hard for me because she played really well," Majoli said. "She didn't give me a chance."
Sabatini didn't give Davenport a chance either. Davenport, last year's U.S. Open junior champion, simply took it.
"This is all really taking me by surprise a little bit. Each tournament I keep getting better and better," said Davenport, who in her professional debut at the Evert Cup last week lost to Mary Joe Fernandez in the quarterfinals.
In the quarterfinals here, Davenport will play Coetzer, a South African.
Sabatini's third-round loss marks the earliest the No. 3 seed has lost in the Slims of Florida since 17-year-old Kathy Rinaldi upset Wendy Turnbull in the third round in 1985. But at least Rinaldi, who began that year ranked No. 23 in the world, was the No. 13 seed.
Davenport is unseeded. Her current ranking is No. 73, a 26- position leap from last week's ranking. She is likely to jump another 25 spots or so by the time she plays in the Lipton.
"I just want to get through this tournament and play my next match well, hopefully not have a big letdown and keep going," Davenport said.
Keep going? Sabatini would just like to get going. Without taking anything away from Davenport's achievement, she acknowledged what most everyone suspected: She is not feeling well. Playing in Lipton -- at her part-time home of Key Biscayne -- is hardly a definite.
"If I'm not feeling well, I'm not going to play," said Sabatini, who has been battling a flu-like virus for the past 4 1/2 weeks.
Sabatini had not played a tournament since the Australian Open and had to spend at least one full week in bed. Her doctor told her it is just a virus -- one that could last for as long as two months -- but she said she might return to him to be sure it's not more.
"It is very frustrating because I don't know what's happening," Sabatini said. "I still don't feel well. I ask myself, 'What's happening?' "
Of course, she knew Thursday. Davenport was happening.
Davenport, at 6-2 and roughly 150 pounds, did not just win against Sabatini. She beat her, running down balls someone her size wouldn't seem to have a chance to get. Davenport played the angles well with her forehand and backhand.
"She can do anything with her backhand," Sabatini said.
Davenport was up, 3-0, in the first set before her nervousness allowed Sabatini to come back and lead, 5-3. After a comeback of her own, Davenport fought through seven deuces to go up, 3-0, in the second set and went on from there like the steady breeze through the tennis center.
"I didn't get real nervous in the second set until I got up, 5-love," Davenport said. "Then I thought, 'Oh, my gosh! I might win this!'
"I kept praying until I got up and through the end."
Stephanie Rehe's body failed her again, which in turn brought a premature end at least for now, to the Rehe-Steffi Graf doubles team.
Rehe, who upset 15th-seeded Radka Zrubakova in the second round, had to quit in the middle of her match against No. 8 seed Amanda Coetzer because of a pulled muscle in the upper thigh area of her left leg. Rehe, from Oceanside, Calif., trailed, 5-3, in the first set when she had to retire.
Rehe and Graf, the tournament's sixth seeded doubles team, had to default their afternoon match against Larisa Neiland and Jana Novotna, the No. 2 seeds, because of a new Kraft Tour rule. The rule states that players who have to default in singles also must default in doubles if the doubles match is the same day.
"This is nothing new," Rehe said. "My body seems to let me down in a lot of matches."
In 1987, Rehe had trouble with her abdominal muscles. She missed all of '89 because of a back injury that required surgery and extensive rehabilitation. The back injury, she said, might be the reason for her continued physical problems.
"I woke up this morning feeling like the Tin Man," Rehe said. "I couldn't move.
"I was really disappointed. I had never played Amanda, and I felt I had a good chance."
Michelle Jackson-Nobrega of Palm Beach Gardens, an early- round loser in doubles at the Virginia Slims of Florida, beat doubles partner Luanne Spadea of Boca Raton, 7-5, 6-2, at the Biltmore Tennis Center in a pre-qualifying tournament to make the qualifying tournament for the Lipton.
Yael Segal of Israel also made Lipton qualifying, which begins Monday, with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Susi Lohrmann of Germany.