Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2 - Page 216 -
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post #3226 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2014, 04:49 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

This is not the way to entice people to shell out $40 and take the trouble and time to commute there and back. This is where an attitude transplant with Arantxa would have been so much better for everyone.

Saturday, March 19, 1994

If you want to know if Steffi Graf is beatable, Natalia Zvereva is probably the wrong person to ask.

She has played Graf 13 times and lost them all, including three matches last year.

Nevertheless, the two women meet for the 14th time today at 1 p.m. for the Lipton Championships title.

Winner gets $150,000, runner-up $75,000.

Beatable? "Truly, I doubt it at the moment," said Zvereva. "She's just playing so good for a pretty long period of time.

"I mean, she just hasn't been playing decent. She's been playing very, very well in all her matches."

Zvereva, 22, from Minsk, Belarus, has won only two sets from Graf, both tiebreaks.

She got to the final by defeating hard-hitting Brenda Schultz in the semis 6-0, 6-4.

You don't have to tell Zvereva that Graf has a more complete game.

Free tip

Pete Sampras analyzing what Jim Courier needs to do to beat him:

"Return a little better. A number of times I feel like if I get my first serve in that if Jim could return a little better, he'd make me play some more shots."

Secure feeling

Mark Miles, chief executive officer of the ATP Tour, found out first hand how good security was at the Lipton.

He was denied entrance to the media facility, where the ATP has an office, because he wasn't wearing a credential.

Even an assurance from ATP Vice President Peter Alfano wasn't good enough for security guard Pepine Louis. The ATP had to produce a credential at the door.

No swipe intended

A year ago, Dana Loconto was the chair umpire when Mark Woodforde upset Jim Courier. Courier was so infuriated by a refusal to overrule a call in the second set that he shook Loconto's chair.

Friday, he was caught leaning the wrong way on a Sampras serve and, trying to recover, hit a wild forehand return that struck Loconto's chair.

"I'm not going to hit Dana," Courier told reporters. "Dana is one of the best guys on the tour and I like him a lot, and I think the feeling is pretty mutual.

"I'm not that good aiming a 120-mile-an-hour serve."

At the end of the match, Courier not only shook hands with Loconto, but gave him a pat on the leg.

Grabb out indefinitely

Jim Grabb, who sprained his ankle in the second set of his quarterfinal match against Patrick Rafter on Thursday, was on crutches Friday. He'll be off the tour indefinitely... Andre Agassi compared Rafter to a young Sampras: "He makes some errors on ground strokes, which Pete used to do. But just since I played him at Wimbledon he's made leaps and bounds forward."... As well-known as he is, Agassi says he refuses to hole up in hotel rooms on the road. "It's very important to me to maintain a certain amount of normalcy in my life and the last thing that I want to do is to become some kind of recluse because I don't want to deal with people. I like going to the mall. I like going to the movies. I like going out to eat. I like being among people and it's important for me not to lose that."
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post #3227 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2014, 04:53 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Do they really need to keep mentioning the 1988 French Open final? Really?

Tennis: Courier keeps Sampras waiting: World No 1 achieves 10th victory over American compatriot while Belarussian fears the inevitable
The Independent
London, England
Saturday, March 19, 1994
JOHN ROBERTS in Key Biscayne

PETE SAMPRAS defeated Jim Courier for the 10th time to advance to the final of the Lipton Championships here yesterday. Errors on both sides made the match one of the least impressive of the 12 between the American compatriots.

The defending champion needed six set points to take the first set and required three match points in a second set tie-break to clinch the win, 6-4, 7-6, in almost two hours. Though Courier will take much of the credit for prolonging the contest, he missed opportunities to detain Sampras further.

It was their second match since last July's Wimbledon final, and Courier at least looked more competitive than when losing to Sampras in straight sets in the semi-finals of the Australian Open two months ago. Unfortunately, his confidence deserted him at crucial moments.

Courier created three set points in the tie-break, having retrieved a 2-4 deficit. He missed the first at 6-5, netting a forehand after Sampras had gifted him a playable second serve. Another forehand error, steered wide, was costly at 7-6, and Sampras was not so generous with his serve at 9-10, giving Courier little option but to net a backhand return.

Sampras meantime had seen two match points elude him. He was passed after failing to put away a backhand volley at 8-7, and netted a backhand service return at 8-9. Courier, serving to save the third match point at 10-12, deposited a forehand approach into the net.

'The tie-break could have gone either way, and I came out a bit lucky,' Sampras said. 'If he could have got that second set the outcome probably would have been different.'

Though the players agreed that neither had performed particularly well, the point which resolved the opening set went some way to making amends for the number of mistakes. Sampras, who failed to put away five set points when serving at 5-4, broke Courier in the next game with a backhand volley on the 38th stroke of a rally.

Natalia Zvereva, at a glance, could be mistaken for Steffi Graf, from the ponytail to the athletic stride. The similarity ends as soon as play begins, particularly if Graf is on the other side of the net.

The first time they met was in the final of the 1988 French Open. Graf won, 6-0, 6-0, in 32 minutes, the shortest officially timed Grand Slam final. Going into today's final Graf leads the head-to-head series 13-0.

It is not just the tennis strokes - especially Graf's mighty forehand - that tells them apart, but attitude as well. Graf's quest for perfection sustains her even in the absence of Monica Seles, her only serious rival. Zvereva sometimes gives the impression that she is content to be No 14 in the singles rankings while acquiring an impressive list of Grand Slam doubles titles in partnership with Gigi Fernandez.

Asked if she considered Graf to be beatable, the 22-year-old from Minsk did not exactly raise everybody's expectation of a major upset. 'I doubt it at the moment,' she said. Defeatist, perhaps, but also realistic. Graf has not been beaten for 31 matches and has not lost a set in her 27 matches this year.
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post #3228 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 15th, 2014, 05:36 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

And lo! Zvereva wins a set!

Graf stays on roll - men's finals today
Ocala Star-Banner
Sunday, March 20, 1994
Steven Wine, Associated Press Sports Writer

KEY BISCAYNE -- When Steffi Graf's forehand sailed long to end the first set, fans rose with a roar as Natalia Zvereva grinned at her moment in the Florida sun.

The rest of the day belonged to the top-ranked Graf, who won 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in Saturday's final at the Lipton Championships. Graf had 17 unforced errors in the first set and 18 the rest of the match.

Graf lost a set for the first time in her 28 matches this year. But she kept a more important streak alive with her 32nd consecutive victory, the fourth-longest run of her career.

"I don't expect to win every match," Graf said. "I know I can do it. I think that's what you need to know."

In the all-American men's final today, Andre Agassi plays top-ranked Pete Sampras.

Graf earned $150,000, her 84th career title and her third Lipton championship. She became the first player since Martina Navratilova in 1990 to win three consecutive tournaments, an achievement she found taxing.

"At the moment I'm really tired of tennis," she said. "That's why the last couple of days it's been difficult for me to be out there. I'm ready for a couple of days off at least."

Graf looked lethargic in the first set, repeatedly missing service returns and passing shots. With Zvereva serving at 5-4, Graf managed to erase four set points but not the fifth.

Suddenly she was down a set for the first time this year.

"I wasn't upset," Graf said. "It just happened."

With the underdog ahead, the crowd of 13,212 unleashed a cheer that might have been audible in Zvereva's hometown of Minsk, Belarus.

"I guess they wanted me to win -- at least the first set. At least some set," Zvereva said.

They were also delighted by the prospect of an upset, which may have unnerved the 14th-ranked Zvereva. "The crowd started expecting me to win or something," she said.

Zvereva knew better. An 0-13 career record against Graf kept her hopes in check.

The German champion made adjustments, and with a few flicks of her famous forehand, the match turned. Graf broke serve five times in the final two sets and won going away.

"At first I tried to go for the lines instead of just trying to get it in play," Graf said. "And I didn't move my feet well. In the second set I just started to play better."

Zvereva shrugged off her fadeout. She had managed to keep Graf on the court for one hour, 48 minutes. She had given the crowd reason to cheer.

"I was 100 percent satisfied with this match," she said.

The men's final will feature the ATP Tour's two hottest players. Sampras is 22-2 this year, Agassi 11-1.

Agassi already has victories this week over second-seeded Stefan Edberg, No. 9 Cedric Pioline and No. 10 Boris Becker -- all in straight sets.

"I am pretty amazed he is beating the players he is beating pretty handily," Sampras said. "It shows you the talent that Andre has. We all know that when he gets his game together, Andre is one of the best players in the world."
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post #3229 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 15th, 2014, 05:42 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

If I were to tell them Steffi would not win any of the next four Slams, they would call me crazy. If I were to tell them Steffi would win only two more tournaments in 1994, they would call me an idiot. If I were to tell them Steffi would lose in the first round of Wimbledon, they would ask me what drugs I was on. I would also be correct.

TENNIS; Graf's No. 1 Challenger Is a Player Named Steffi
Published: March 20, 1994
New York Times

Fortunately Steffi Graf has always been intrigued with the notion of herself as her greatest competitor, because this year there is nothing else to inspire her to greater heights save her own internal touchstone, the one that demands perfection.

These days nobody but Steffi defeats Steffi, and in her last 32 matches, not to mention her last four Grand Slam tournaments, that simply hasn't happened.

Today, Graf captured the Lipton Championships, a title second in importance only to the Slams and the year-end Virginia Slims Championships, by wearing down ninth-seeded Natalya Zvereva, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. The match lasted 1 hour 48 minutes, twice the workout Graf has become accustomed to, and she blamed its length on her impatience, and Zvereva's buoyancy, in the first set.

Zvereva, a talented if undisciplined technician whose deceptive shot repertory has been honed by a formidable doubles career, came out swinging. Graf, as usual carrying the burden of producing a victory by rote, came out tense, hence her first-set woes.

Consecutive-Set Streak Ends

But after an hour, a weary Zvereva was soaked from her efforts while Graf was just hitting her stride, and the final two sets showed the first to be just an aberration.

Zvereva, who last month in Chicago won her first singles title in four years, did end Graf's record run of 27 matches without surrendering a set, but that was the only aspect of the Graf momentum she was able to stop.

As the score suggests, this was not a victory that satisfied the Graf touchstone: she committed 35 unforced errors, the same as the panting underdog; twice dropped her serve, and summoned only a single ace. Throughout the first set and three games into the second, her body language gave ample evidence of what she thought of her play: she repeatedly disowned her shots with a dismissive and derisive flick of the hand.

Zvereva, by contrast, was her own best friend and cheerleader, and she was egged on by a partisan crowd that made it clear it wanted to see what no crowd had seen in Graf's last 31 matches, and what only 39 crowds in the last 9 years have seen at all: a Graf loss.

'I Can Do It'

Instead, the 24-year-old German, who's already being mentioned in the same breath with a 1994 Grand Slam, extended her unbeaten streak to 32 matches, improved her record against Zvereva to 14-0, and captured her fifth final in as many tournaments this year.

"I don't expect to win everything, but I know I can do it," said Graf, who won the Grand Slam, and an Olympic gold medal, in 1988. "That's what's important, to know you can."

Then she announced that she is taking a temporary vacation from tennis.

"I'm really tired of tennis, to tell you the truth," she said. "It's been tennis, tennis, tennis: I need a break," said Graf, who planned to unwind with some wind-surfing and beachcombing.

But it will take more than this mini-hiatus for the rest of the field in women's tennis to catch up to Graf, who right now appears invincible and, as Zvereva pointed out, leaves her challengers believing they have little more than "a two-percent" chance of detouring her.

Total Domination

There is no active player in the world who has been able to dominate Graf, and not even Monica Seles, the woman who three years ago ended Graf's epic 186-week stand atop the rankings, has posted a winning career record against her.

Graf, who recovered the No. 1 ranking last June, is 6-4 against Seles, 23-5 against second-ranked Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 9-1 against third-ranked Conchita Martinez, 9-9 against fourth-ranked Martina Navratilova, and 26-11 against fifth-ranked Gabriela Sabatini. Against Jennifer Capriati, the WTA Tour dropout to whom Graf ascribes some of the hardest-hitting in the business, the German is 9-1.

Since neither Seles nor Capriati has committed herself to returning to the circuit this year, and since Navratilova has declared her intention of retiring from it after this season, that leaves Graf with a most familiar archrival: herself.

And should boredom set in, there's always Pete Sampras, the world's No. 1 male player, who has opened an unprecedented rankings gap between himself and his nearest challengers, waiting in the wings with a plan.

"I'd attack her backhand," he said.


In Sunday's men's final, PETE SAMPRAS will test his serve and a 4-4 record against the brash returns of 31st-ranked ANDRE AGASSI, who has exploded back onto the ATP Tour this spring after a five-month injury timeout. Agassi has reached the final of two of the three events he has entered this year.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Fighting fatigue, Graf wins Lipton to extend streak
St. Petersburg Times
March 20, 1994

Tokyo. New York. Melbourne. Indoor supreme court. Outdoor hardcourt.

The cities and venues change from week to week, but little else about Steffi Graf's record does.

The 32nd consecutive entry in her travel log Saturday read Key Biscayne, outdoor hardcourt, Lipton Championship winner. But it just as easily could have said "See Delray Beach" or "See Indian Wells."

Graf made no celebratory gestures after erasing ninth-seed Natalia Zvereva 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 to win her sixth tournament in a row. She merely ducked into the restroom for a second, then returned to accept her crystal trophy and $150,000 winner's check.

"I'm tired at the moment," said tennis' top-ranked woman, who has played seven of the last nine weeks. "I'm really tired of tennis, to tell you the truth. That's why the last couple of days it's been difficult for me to be out there."

Graf, 24, didn't escape from this one unscathed. Ninth-seed Natalia Zvereva took a set off her, snapping her streak of 27 straight-set matches, but not her 32-match win streak.

"I'm 100 percent satisfied with this match," Zvereva said. "It was pretty emotional."

Said Graf of the lost set: "I wasn't upset. It just happened."

Although the victory gave Graf her first Lipton title in six years and made her the first woman to win three tournaments in three weeks, it wasn't one for the scrapbook. It was, Graf said, a rush job.

Too often she tried to end points with one swooping swing of her forehand. That created many of the 35 unforced errors she had and helped ease any jitters Zvereva might have brought to the court. Down 3-2 in the first set, for example, Graf followed three dazzling shots with two bonehead ones.

"I didn't really try to get into any long points," Graf said. "I just tried for too much."

That's not to say Zvereva - who had no wins and only two sets against Graf in 13 previous encounters - was handed anything Saturday. The gifted and savvy pro she is, she put a variety of moves on Graf, pressuring her at the net behind low-skidding approach shots off her slice backhand.

And even though she blew four set points in the opening set, including one on a double-fault, she nailed it down on the fifth one and even did her own little Belorussian boogie to mark the occasion.

Thing was, while she was dancing, the music was about to stop.

From 1-1 of the second set, a more patient and determined Graf ran off seven straight games and 11 of the last 13, blasting one baseline winner after another. (She had 31 for the match to Zvereva's 17).

Down 4-1 in the third set, Zvereva made one last charge at Graf, breaking her serve to pull to 4-2 and threatening to 4-3. But the hill was too steep and her fuel gauge too low.

"It wasn't a letdown," Zvereva maintained. "I sort of got tired in the middle of the second set. I knew she would get better eventually, and she did. She stopped making any unforced errors, and she was more aggressive."

So with a 1994 ledger that includes five titles, a 28-0 match record and a tour-leading $774,065 in prize money, Graf moves on, not to another tournament, but toward some R&R - which should provide a pleasant respite for her tour peers.

With the futures of former top-ranked pro Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati deep in doubt, consecutive tournament title No. 7 for Graf could come as soon as two weeks from now at the Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head, S.C.

"I don't expect to win every match," Graf said. "I mean, I know I can do it, and I think that's what you need to know."

Note: Jared Palmer of Tampa and Mark Knowles lost the Lipton men's doubles final Saturday 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4) to Jacco Eltingh and ex-Florida State player Paul Haarhuis. It was Palmer's fifth doubles final of the year (he won two of them).
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Q. What are your goals now, Natalia?

NATASHA ZVEREVA: What are my goals? To finish that apple.

Q. Do you believe that there are a number of women on this tour who are very good players, who are not driven to be number 1 but were satisfied to be four, five, six, in that area?

STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, that's what I've been saying, I don't think -- there are a lot of players, more -- quite a few players happen to have a lot of talent, and I think they can get further than they think they can get maybe.

The Palm Beach Post
Sunday, March 20, 1994

Natalia Zvereva waited a moment before she jumped, kicking up like a rock guitarist on a riff only after she heard the call.

A Steffi Graf forehand had sailed long at her feet to end the first set of the Lipton Championships women's final Saturday. With that, Graf's straight-set win streak fell at Zvereva's hands.

Ninth-seeded Zvereva soaked in the standing ovation from the crowd of 13,212 at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park (``That was huge,'' she said later) but couldn't deliver on their demands to win one more set, as top seed Graf took command for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory, $150,000 and her third Lipton title.

``I wonder what would have happened if she had won,'' Graf said.

Indeed. Zvereva might have turned a cartwheel and taken the tennis world along for a topsy-turvy ride.

As it was, she stopped Graf's straight-set streak at 27 matches - that's 55 sets, including the last of a three-set [sic] victory over Arantxa Sanchez Vicario at the Virginia Slims Championships in November - a record for women's tennis in the past decade.

Still, Graf's dominance can't be denied. Since last year's German Open, the first tournament Graf played after Monica Seles' stabbing in April, Graf has won 13-of-14 tournaments. Four of those wins came at Grand Slam tournaments and five have come this year.

The roll has left Graf flat. Getting her to raise the crystal championship trophy over her head and look jubilant Saturday was an exercise in futility for photographers.

``I'm really tired of tennis, to tell you the truth,'' she said.

But not tired enough to step aside and let the rest of the women's field scrap over the tournament titles. Just tired enough to take a couple of days off, and to look forward to the free week she has before the Family Circle Magazine Cup at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Since the week of Feb. 21, Graf has played tournaments non-stop, starting with the Evert Cup at Indian Wells, Calif. During the stretch, she defended her title at the Virginia Slims of Florida in Delray Beach.

The decision to play at Delray Beach was last-minute - she accepted a wild-card entry the Thursday before the tournament - and one she regrets now.

``It was a big mistake to play Delray Beach,'' she said. ``For myself, it's just been tennis, tennis, tennis.''

The first signs of her fatigue came that week, as twice she was taken to 7-5 sets. In the Slims final, Sanchez Vicario had the first two set points of the year against Graf but couldn't convert them.

Graf breezed through her first four rounds at the Lipton, losing just nine games on her way to her semifinal match against seventh-seeded Lindsay Davenport. Davenport didn't manage even one game in the first set but in the second had two set points and pushed Graf into her first tiebreaker since October. Graf won 6-0, 7-6 (7-3).

All this, Zvereva knew going into Saturday's match. She also knew what others had offered in the form of unsolicited, bleacher-seat wisdom.

``I had been told I should play twice to the backhand, then go really sharp to the forehand,'' she said.

``I said, `And then what?' ''

Zvereva, who will climb in the singles rankings to No. 13, didn't try the strategy in the match but did turn to the net play she has polished as part of the No. 1 women's doubles team in the world with Gigi Fernandez. Throughout the first set, Graf struggled to pass her. She also made several unforced errors off the high kick of Zvereva's second serves.

``I just didn't step in because I was so slow. I just didn't move my feet very well,'' said Graf, who regained her form in the second and third sets.

Zvereva, on the other hand, used her returns as a weapon. She broke Graf in the fifth game of the first set with a backhand return down the line off a 72-mph second serve.

Graf made one of her first winners on a return in the 10th game, saving the first set point with a down-line shot off a 73-mph second serve and sending the game to deuce. Zvereva then wobbled on the tightrope holding Graf's streak intact, squandering four set points before winning on the fifth with Graf's forehand error. Graf, meanwhile, knew the streak was on the line.

``Every time she had set point, I was like, `Oh, that's it.' Then she did a double fault, then she missed an easy one, and I was like, `Oh, maybe that's not it. She doesn't want it,' '' Graf said.

Zvereva left no doubt, though, that she wanted it. Even as she accepted her $75,000 check and runner-up cup, she bounced on her feet as if the court were a trampoline. With the crowd once again standing and applauding for her, she congratulated Graf and said:

``I thought I did good winning the first set.''
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`Mentally tired' Graf holds on for title
The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
Sunday, March 20, 1994

Key Biscayne, Fla. - At least she wasn't staring off at Key West or a passing cruise ship when it was her turn to serve. Steffi Graf paid attention Saturday just long enough to win the women's singles title of the Lipton Championships, her 28th straight match this year and a check for $150,000.

But that's how dominant Graf is these days. Even burned out and bored, she's still better than everyone else in women's tennis.

Are we keeping you up, Steffi? Just barely.

After 27 matches without losing a set, it took Natalia Zvereva winning the first one 6-4 Saturday to snap Graf to attention. From that point on, the talented but overmatched Zvereva would have enjoyed herself more back in her old Soviet Union in a blizzard. Shortly after the set streak fell, Graf's first serves started dropping in. Her forehands picked up speed. Her opponent started wilting under the chase, intensified by heat and humidity. Eventually, Graf secured a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

"I knew she would get better eventually," said Zvereva, "and she did. Her constant ability of moving an opponent around, it just wears people out."

Zvereva, ranked 13th on the WTA sheet, termed herself "100 percent satisfied with this match." Graf was just happy not to have lost track of the score. Maybe the No. 1 player in the world can use some of the prize money for a few motivational tapes.

"There wasn't much that I really cared about, which was very strange," Graf said. "I'm really tired of tennis, to tell you the truth. That's why the last few days it's been difficult for me to be out there.

"I'm ready for a couple of days [off] at least," she said. "It's not that I'm tired physically. I'm tired mentally. It's just been tennis, tennis, tennis, and I need a break from that."

Graf claims the mental fatigue is so deep that if she hadn't already committed to play in the Family Circle tournament at Hilton Head the week of March 28, she would not be there. Graf said her thoughts were so scattered in the first set, that by the fourth set point, she was almost wishing Zvereva would hurry up and get it over with.

"Every time she had set point, it was like, `Oh, that's it,' " Graf said. "Then she had a double fault and she missed an easy one. I was like, `Oh, maybe that's not it. Maybe she doesn't want it.' "

Oh, Zvereva wanted it, all right. It was just a dream too big. Winning a set is one thing. Beating Graf is quite another. Even when the crowd of 13,212 at the Crandon Park Tennis Center started to smell a potential upset, Zvereva didn't lose track of reality.

"It wasn't a letdown [after the first set]," Zvereva said, "but I thought the crowd started expecting me to win the match or something."
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf wins Lipton; Zvereva wins fans
The Tampa Tribune
Sunday, March 20, 1994
H.A. BRANHAM, Tribune Staff Writer

KEY BISCAYNE -- Women's finalist Natalia Zvereva received not one but two standing ovations Saturday, at the Lipton Championships.

And she was the loser.

"I wonder what it would've been like if she had won," Steffi Graf told the crowd of 13,212 at the Tennis Center of Crandon Park, after defeating Zvereva 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Zvereva's effort was worth leaving your seat for. She ended Graf's run of consecutive winning sets at 55; Graf's match winning streak came away intact at 32 -- a streak that started with a win against Zvereva, at the Virginia Slims Championships in November.

And a streak that, at times, has seemed monotonous. Even Graf sounded bored Saturday, after winning a third consecutive tournament -- the first woman to do so since Martina Navratilova in 1990.

"I'm tired at the moment, really tired of tennis, to tell the truth," Graf said. "I'm ready for a couple of days [off] at least.

"It's been just tennis, tennis, tennis [lately]. I need a break from that."

The crowd was respectful of Graf but backed Zvereva throughout. She rewarded them with performance and personality.

When Graf blasted a forehand deep to end the first set, Zvereva, looking like a cheerleader, leapt into the air. That resulted in standing-O No. 1.

In the first game of the second set, after nailing a backhand winner to earn a break point, Zvereva did a quick hip-shaking dance-step along the sideline.

"That [crowd support] was huge," Zvereva said. "It was so great. I appreciated it so much. They were very loud. I don't know what the reason was, but I liked it a lot.

"I was not expecting them to root for me at the beginning because, obviously, Steffi is a great player and the No. 1 player in the world. But as the match went along, I think they started rooting a little bit more for me. I guess they wanted me to win at least the first set or some set."

Zvereva broke serve in the sixth game of the first set with a backhand down the line. Serving for the set at 5-4, it took her five set points to close out.

Graf immediately started playing better. Just over an hour later, it was over, the match ending with a Graf service winner.

Afterward, the crowd stood and roared again when Zvereva accepted the runner-up trophy from tournament officials. They also stood for Graf.

But this time, the noise was noticeably less.


Tampa's Jared Palmer, playing with Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, lost in the men's doubles final Saturday 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4) to the world's top-ranked team -- Paul Haarhuis and Jacco Eltingh of The Netherlands.

Palmer continued a run of doubles success at the Lipton, reaching his fifth final of the year -- with his fourth different partner.

Palmer and Knowles made the final by upsetting the world's second-ranked team, Byron Black and Jonathan Stark, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in the semifinals.

"I think I've had a good stretch where things have gone my way," Palmer said.


What: Lipton Championships

Today: Men's singles final.

Who: World No. 1 Pete Sampras vs. No. 33 Andre Agassi.

TV: channel 10, 4 p.m.

Head-to-head record: Even at 4-4.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Miami Herald
Sunday, March 20, 1994
Herald Sports Staff

Natalia Zvereva had four opportunities to win the first set over Steffi Graf before she finally won it on her fifth set point. Here is how the set points went:

* Set point 1: Score, 40-15: Graf hits a forehand return winner up the line.

* Set point 2: 40-30: Zvereva rips a backhand down the line for a would-be winner, but the ball is just out.

Deuce: Zvereva, playing serve and volley, hits a forehand volley winner.

* Set point 3: Advantage Zvereva: Zvereva double faults.

Deuce: Graf tries a forehand down the line, but misses.

* Set point 4: Advantage Zvereva: Zvereva slices a backhand into the net.

Deuce: Zvereva pulls Graf wide with an 84 mph serve to Graf's forehand. Graf hits the ball long.

* Set point 5: Advantage Zvereva: Graf hits a forehand long.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Miami Herald
Sunday, March 20, 1994

Where were you on this day in tennis history, March 19, 1994?

It was on this day that Natalia Zvereva broke one of the windows in the castle from which Steffi Graf reigns as queen of women's tennis.

Zvereva stole the first set of the women's final in The Lipton Championships from Graf before joining legions of Graf's other subjects, losing, finally, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

"I thought I did good, winning the first set," Zvereva told the Stadium Court crowd at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park.

In 27 straight matches this year, only three women had even threatened to take a set from Graf: Helena Sukova, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Lindsay Davenport.

Probably none of the 13,212 fans in the stadium -- or many people elsewhere -- thought it possible for Zvereva to do it. A half hour before the match, one man stood at an intersection 400 yards from the Rickenbacker Causeway toll plaza trying to sell four tickets and a premium parking pass.

After Zvereva wasted four opportunities to win the first set, even Graf wondered if Zvereva could stop her 55-set winning streak. (The streak began with the last set of Graf's victory in the Virginia Slims Championships last November.)

"Every time she had a set point, I was like, 'Oh, that's it,' " Graf said. "Then she did a double fault, she missed an easy one. I was like, 'Oh, maybe that's not it. She doesn't want it.' "

Want it or not, Graf ultimately gave it to her by hitting a forehand long.

Graf hit a lot of forehands long on her way to a third Lipton title and a $150,000 payday. Between forced and unforced errors, Graf lost 18 points off her forehand Saturday.

Graf only had 21 forehand winners the entire match.

If Graf had been playing anyone but ninth-seeded Zvereva in the final -- maybe Sanchez Vicario or Gabriela Sabatini or Jana Novotna, Lipton's two, three and four seeds -- she might not have been able to escape with the title.

"It's difficult to say," Graf said. "Maybe I would have been a little different on the court."

Graf, who is 14-0 against Zvereva, said she was as mentally drained as she has been since last August. At that time, she had an injured right foot and questions about Monica Seles' forced absence from the tour were a daily ordeal.

This time, Graf has just been playing too much tennis. She said if she weren't already committed to it, she would skip the Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head, S.C., March 28-April 3.

"I'm tired at the moment," Graf said. "I'm tired of tennis, to tell you the truth. That's why the last couple of days have been difficult for me out there.

"It was a big mistake to play Delray Beach (the Virginia Slims of Florida)."

The Lipton was Graf's fifth tournament of the year. She has played the past four weeks straight.

"It is a bit much," she said.

Graf wears herself out on the tennis court as well as she does her opponents.

Zvereva was playing wonderfully smart against Graf in the first set. Zvereva ran down many of Graf's would-be winners and played chip-and-charge as masterfully as if she originated that style.

After breaking Graf in the first set to go ahead, 3-2, Zvereva ran down a ball that pulled her well out of the deuce court, hit a forehand deep to Graf's backhand, hustled cross court for a backhand volley and finally took the point with an overhead winner.

But by the time Graf broke Zvereva for the first game of the third set, Zvereva was reaching lazily for balls she had returned zestfully before and it was clear Graf had worn her down.

"It was sort of in the middle of the second set," said Zvereva, who lost 19 of 25 points during one stretch between the end of the second set and the middle of the third. "She moves opponents around very well, and it just wears people out."

But by then, a crowd that was clearly rooting for Graf early in the match had gotten behind Zvereva, a lanky free-spirit from Belarus. The crowd gave Zvereva a standing ovation after she won the first set. They cheered feverishly after she ripped a backhand winner up the line then, with arms extended, did a little celebratory twist in the second set.

The crowd even sympathized with Zvereva's every missed opportunity, filling the stadium with mournful sighs.

"I was not expecting them to root for me at the beginning because Steffi is a great player and she's a great personality and she's the No. 1 tennis player in the world," Zvereva said. "But as the match came along, they started to root a little bit more for me.

"I guess they wanted me to win, at least the first set . . . or at least some set."
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

And the Sun-Sentinel staff unloads!

Sunday, March 20, 1994

She was good. Zvery good. Good enough to win the first set off Steffi Graf in 1994.

But here's a news flash: They're still playing best-of-three on the WTA Tour.

And so you can chisel Natalia Zvereva's name on the losers' wall, number 32 on Graf's list of consecutive victims.

Lindsay Davenport, Kimiko Date, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario...

On a day you thought you'd never see, with Graf the Great admitting she was (temporarily) burned out on tennis, she still was good enough to win the Lipton Championships title 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Career title No. 88. Fifth of the year. Thirteenth in the past 14, including three Grand Slams. She's 28-0 this year, 56-1 in sets.

Oooh, that blemish. It makes you wonder if she's slipping.

Martina Navratilova, Iva Majoli, Amanda Coetzer...

It was a day made for cocoa butter and dolphin watching, and you got the distinct feeling Graf would rather have been on a Boca beach, working the tanning rays.

"I'm tired at the moment. I'm really tired of tennis, to tell you the truth," she said, looking emotionless and a bit bored.

"That's why the last couple of days it's been difficult for me to be out there."

She had been pressed to play Indian Wells (Calif.) to pump up the gate for a weak draw, then decided to play her hometown tournament, the Florida Slims at Delray Beach.

"It was a big mistake. I've been playing the fifth tournament in a couple of weeks. It's a bit much. I'm ready for a couple of days off at least.

"It's been tennis, tennis, tennis, and I think I need a break from that."

Sabine Hack, Helena Sukova, Gigi Fernandez...

Graf's mental exhaustion showed right out of the gate. Instead of stepping into Zvereva's 64 mph marshmallow second serve, she was back on her heels, smacking it wide, long, into the net, everywhere but into the court.

Zvereva broke her to go up 3-2 and held for 4-2 when Graf hit consecutive service returns out from deuce.

One statistic told the story of Graf's poor start: Of Zvereva's 35 first-set points, 17 (49 percent) came on unforced errors.

But give the lady from Minsk some credit, too. She ran the baseline brilliantly, hitting running forehands, and knocked off another 10 points at the net.

She had five chances to deal Graf her first loss of a set this year, and it finally came on her third ad.

Graf had a clean shot at a forehand winner from the service line and drove the ball too deep.

The crowd of 13,212 roared at the momentous occasion. Perhaps it thought it had seen something that won't happen again this year.

"Every time she had a set point, I was like, `Oh, that's it,'" said Graf. "Then she had a double fault and she missed an easy one and I thought maybe that's not it. She doesn't want it."

Zvereva seemed relieved when she did get it. "I said to myself, `Yes sirree,'" she cracked. "No, not really. I didn't say anything. But it was pretty emotional."

Amy Frazier, Tracy Austin, Clare Wood...

This match was won on fitness as much as anything else.

Mentally, Graf might have been in some other solar system, but, physically, it wasn't close.

Zvereva admitted she was significantly tired by the middle of the second set.

By the third set, she was hardly able to push herself to the net - only six approaches after 29 in the first two.

Meanwhile, Graf got her head back into the match, forcing herself to step into those returns and playing them more conservatively.

It was her legs that finally took over the match. By late in the second set she was clearly on top of things.

Zvereva had a brief flurry in the final set, breaking to 2-4. But she faded fast after that.

"I'm 100 percent satisfied with this match," she said, a curious remark from someone whose conditioning let her down in a championship match.

Maybe that's a key difference between Zvereva and Graf, who said, "I'm not happy about the way I was playing."

Maybe it's a key difference between almost everyone else on tour and Graf.

Graf pocketed $150,000 for this title and more than earned the right to a week off.

She would take more, she said, but she already has committed to playing Hilton Head from March 28 to April 3, where there will be five more victims lined up and waiting for a spot on the wall.

Ginger Helgeson, Marianne Werdel, Natalia Zvereva...
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Sunday, March 20, 1994

Pete Sampras rolls into the Lipton final today with a 22-2 record but ripe for an upset, and Andre Agassi must sense it.

Sampras has not been serving well all week, and one of Agassi's strongest weapons is his service return.

"There is no question Pete is going to rise to the occasion," Agassi said diplomatically.

He isn't making any predictions. "I couldn't think of anything that could insult Pete more," he said.

"It has nothing to do with expecting anything. Sports is made up of champions that get upset.

"Pete has been an incredible champion for the past year and he deserves all the respect in the world.

"But he's going to have go out there and beat me, and I'm not going to let that happen easily."

Sampras' first serve is finding the mark only 52 percent of the time, and his coach, Tim Gullikson, says he is bothered by the winds that swirl around the stadium court.

Agassi, on the other hand, seems to play well in the wind. His heavy topspin helps keep the ball from floating out.

Most telling statistic in Agassi's portfolio is his 58-percent success rate against opponents' second serves.

Agassi looked solid in his semifinal against Patrick Rafter. Sampras looked shaky in the baseline rallies with Jim Courier in his semi.

But Sampras has one weapon Agassi lacks - a potent first serve. He comes into the match with 45 aces for the week to Agassi's four. Now all he has to do is get it in more often.

Zvereva's last waltz

Natalia Zvereva's loss was her 14th in a row without a win against Steffi Graf, but at least she got to do her dance.

On key points, she likes to do an NFL-style sack strut.

It was more of break dance against Graf. Down 3-1 at deuce in the second set, she slugged a backhand ground stroke down the line for a winner, putting her one point from busting Graf's serve and getting back on track.

She was feeling good. But Graf rallied to win the game, and Zvereva's performance plummeted from there.

Graf was neither irritated nor amused by the Zvereva jig.

"I haven't seen it once during a match. I never look," she said.

Never? she was pressed.

"No, I saw it on TV after the match during the ceremony, but I have not seen it during the match. Sorry."

Eltingh: Doubles double

Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis won the men's doubles, their third title of the year and a back-to-back Lipton championship for Eltingh, who played with Jan Siemerink last year.

Anders Jarryd is the only other player to win back-to-back doubles titles at Lipton, with John Fitzgerald in 1988 and Jakob Hlasek in 1989.

Winning combination

Patty Fendick and Meredith McGrath, teaming for the first time this year, are in their fourth final and seeking their third title. They'll play top-seeded Zvereva and Gigi Fernandez. Fendick/McGrath defeated second-seeded Jana Novotna/Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 7-6, 6-1 to get into the final and played two thrilling points in a row to win the tiebreak. Zvereva/Fernandez defeated Lori McNeil and Rennae Stubbs 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the final. During the match, Fernandez required sideline treatmen t from a trainer after being hit in the ear while trying to avoid a backhand from Stubbs...

David Hall of Australia and Chip Parmelly of Diamond Bar, Calif., will play the men's wheelchair final today. Monique Kalkman and Chantal Vandierendonck, both of the Netherlands, play the women's final.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Sunday, March 20, 1994

Pete Sampras' next great challenge: The French Open.

He wants it badly because with it comes the place he wants in history - as a complete champion who has won not only on grass and hardcourts, but on clay as well.

"Think about all the great players that have not won the French - [John) McEnroe, [Jimmy) Connors and so on," Sampras said. "If I can one day get a little lucky at the French this would be more satisfying than any other victory I have had.

"It's going to be a long road. I know going into the French this year I will be a favorite, but not a strong one. There are guys stronger on clay and they feel like they have a pretty good chance to win against me."

Maybe it is Sampras' fate to win it this year. He now has three consecutive Grand Slam titles after going out in the French quarters in 1993.

No one has won three in a row since Rod Laver won the Grand Slam back in 1969.

Three years ago Sampras embarrassed himself at the French, losing in the second round. He is the first to admit he just didn't understand the dynamics of playing on dirt.

But where others have avoided clay, he confronted it.

"I'm going to prepare for the French by training hard. Very hard," he said.

But he's going to do most of it off the court, not by playing a half-dozen clay tournaments in Europe.

For Sampras, the secret to winning the French is being in shape for two weeks of five-set matches.

On the court, he says, "Patience and staying mentally into the match are the keys. There are a lot of highs and lows in a three-out-of-five clay-court match and the way I play, I still feel like I have too many highs and lows that you can't get away with.

"There are guys that kind of hang in there, like [Jim) Courier and [Sergi) Bruguera. They just don't really catch their breath. I have to get to that point."

Sampras watched some of the Courier-Bruguera final at the 1993 French. "Clay court tennis at its best," he said.

You can tell by the way he says it just how badly he wants it.

Taking Raymond to school

Patty Fendick, who forestalled turning pro to get a bachelor's degree in psychology at Stanford, knows exactly what Lisa Raymond is going through.

Raymond, who left the University of Florida to turn pro last year, has struggled since and went out in the first round at Lipton.

"She has a lot of talent and she's going to be a great player. But it will take time," Fendick said.

"Fortunately or unfortunately, you go through a period in college when you don't lose a match. You don't lose a set. You struggle just to lose a point. For a couple years you have looked across the net at everyone and told yourself there is no way this person can beat me.

"Then you turn pro. The first couple of months, you're in the same frame of mind and you beat a lot of people. Oh, you draw Steffi [Graf] a couple times. But, other than that, you keep going up, up, up.

"All of a sudden, everyone gets a read on your game. You're not the new kid on the block anymore. I went through it and I survived. So will Lisa. She's not used to losing and it's an adjustment."

One more piece of wisdom from Fendick, who is nearly 29 years old and has seen a lot of tennis:

"I used to think it was all about winning big tournaments. I've won a few. But I think in the long run you're striving for consistency. Just make it to the quarters every week and that will give you your shots at winning a title."

Second serves

As the Jimmy Connors senior tour expands, so does the opportunity to play for guys in their late 30s and beyond. Harold Solomon, 41, of Fort Lauderdale will play three of the 10 Connors tournaments (Seattle, Hilton Head, Westchester) and two or three of the ATP events. Since he began playing again at last year's Wimbledon, Gene Mayer, 36, has been one of the most sought-after senior players. But for religious reasons he won't play on Sunday... Alex O'Brien is finished using pickel juice as an antidote for his chronic dehydration. He got the idea from Solomon's father, who advocated its use. "Instead, I'm just trying to relax more now," said O'Brien...

Todd Martin took bags of peanuts, a favorite snack food, on the Davis Cup trip to India... Captain Tom Gullikson ordered the players to get six innoculations. "If you read any travel guide it will tell you to take shot A, B and C if you're going to India. We've also taken X, Y and Z," he said...

Hard to believe, but overachiever Michael Chang admits to having "slacked off" for two weeks following his win in Philadelphia. "It's a good lesson for me. Now I've got to start thinking about getting back in the hard-work ethic and get ready for the next tournament"... Coach Bob "Nails" Carmichael likens young top-10 killer Patrick Rafter to two other Aussies - Roy Emerson and Rod Laver. He's a 21-year-old throwback to the hard-playing gentlemen/athletes of the 1960s.

Short angles

Kimiko Date (DAH-tay) came to Lipton with enough impressive wins in 1994 to make people think she could challenge Graf. They played in the quarterfinals and Date got 28 points in 14 games, never had a break point, served five double faults and, of Graf's total of 59 points, 38 came on unforced errors. Send in the next contender... Another reason Graf is way ahead of everyone else: Unlike many players, she not only has her coach, Heinz Gunthardt, scout opponents but, like an NFL franchise, Gunthardt plays scout team before Graf's matches, trying to emulate the style of play of her next opponent. Many players don't even bother and are never totally prepared for a match.

Local tournament

There's a starter tournament at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton on Saturday for kids age 10-14. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. and the tournament is run by Neighborhood Tennis Inc., which receives support from the U.S. Tennis Association. Entry fee is $15. Call 1-407-488-7159.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf's Jaded, Zvereva Winded, We're All Tired
March 20, 1994

KEY BISCAYNE — Steffi Graf is tired of tennis, and since she admits it, I guess it's fair for the rest of us watching the women's game to fess up, too.

So: I'm tired of women's tennis.

This, by the way, is different than being tired from women's tennis, which is what Natalia Zvereva was by the second set of Saturday's Lipton Championships final.

Zvereva couldn't catch her breath then, much less Graf. She was huffing and puffing and blowing whatever Virginia Slims-to-none computer chance she had of a big upset.

Come to think of it, maybe that's part of why some of us are out of shape with the game right now. The players aren't in shape, at least not like Graf, who when she takes opponents' breath away with a great shot evidently really takes it away.

Because one minute Saturday Zvereva was taking the first set from Graf since the wooden racket, and the next minute she was sitting in the interview room having lost 6-4, 1-6, 2-6 and saying how darned tired she was.

"Her constant ability of moving an opponent around, you know, it just wears people out," Zvereva said.

Graf's eyes crinkled at this, the way they do when you get soap in them or don't follow what someone has said.

"She shouldn't have been tired," Graf said. "We didn't play a lot of long rallies in the first set. I didn't think it should have been a match where you get very tired."

Warming up with an attitude

But Zvereva comes a couple of days after Lindsay Davenport said she tired playing Graf in the semifinals. This suggests they don't just need to work on second serves, but second winds.

What with Graf momentarily tired of the game and her opponents tired from playing her and fans tired of the same tiresome outcomes, there are more tired people in women's tennis than in Sleepless in Seattle.

It's not Graf's fault. She's the perfect blend of talent and work ethic. She has the answer for everyone chasing her, too.

In fact, Graf gave a partial answer Saturday, getting out on the court before the crowds, before the cameras, before the crystal trophy that would be hers was set there.

Two hours before the match, she warmed up in the late morning sun for 45 minutes, although it might not be right to call it a warmup, considering that's how long most of her matches take.

Besides, Graf doesn't just warm up. She works at warming up. You could see that. It was like Larry Bird in basketball.

Once, New Jersey Nets coach Stan Albeck brought his young players early to Boston Garden to watch Bird in his strenuous pregame workout. Only Bird wasn't on the court when they arrived, and the players began joking this was all a joke, a Larry myth.

Albeck pointed up.

There Bird was, jogging in the upper deck.

Lonely work at the top

This is how Graf is in tennis. It's why she is a little burned out from playing so much. It's also why she sounds perplexed over what's happening below her in the rankings, which is nothing at all.

"I think one of my good parts is that I am still trying to improve and I am working hard on it," she said. "Sometimes you can sense that others maybe don't try as hard as I am. That is probably the biggest difference."

And: "Quite a few players happen to have a lot of talent, and I think they can get further than maybe they think they can get."

Not to pick on Zvereva, who was seeded ninth and had a great Lipton. But she said coming into the finals she didn't really have a chance. She said afterward that she'd be happy making the quarterfinals of any major tournament.

Maybe she should be, too. But it all adds up to why, as Graf stepped up to get the trophy, some fan yelled, "Where's Monica?'' But they don't need just Monica Seles on the women's tour. They evidently need oxygen.
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post #3240 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 15th, 2014, 07:34 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

THANK YOU for all the articles again and again and again and ...

It's funny to read everybody is tired of having a so dominant N°1.
I don't think it has something to do with Steffi. Each time there was a so dominant player you could hear the same complaints And as soon as there is no more strong hierarchy, no dominating player they all scream that womens tennis is a joke.
So. Whatever the situatuion they complain, for fun I guess
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