Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
INJURIES BECOME GRAF'S RIVAL
The Miami Herald
Sunday, March 5, 1995
MERI-JO BORZILLERI, Herald Sports Writer
It has been a year since Steffi Graf's breathtaking run on the WTA Tour, where she began 1994 on a 36-match victory streak and didn't lose a match until May 1.
Now, at the beginning of 1995, Graf is confronting an emotion rarely felt by the only player -- male or female -- to win all four Grand Slam singles crowns in this decade.
Steffi Graf feels vulnerable.
Not to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who took over No. 1, a ranking Graf had owned for 20 months.
Not to the rest of the women's field, which has produced 10 titlists in the first 10 tournaments of the season.
No, Graf's Achilles' heel is herself. Her health. The $430,000 Delray Beach Winter Championships, which start Monday at the Delray Beach Tennis Center with Graf the No. 1 seed, will only be Graf's second tournament of '95.
"The year is just starting for me now," said Graf, who has won the tournament five times, including the past three. "(Being No. 1) is not on my mind right now. My priority right now is to stay injury-free."
Last year at this point, Graf had three titles in her pocket, including the Australian Open. She embarked on a bewildering bender of domination that saw her win 27 straight matches without dropping a set -- before Natalia Zvereva managed to win one set in the Lipton final.
This year has been one of fits and starts. After recovering from a chronic back problem that kept her off the tour most of the second half of 1994, Graf withdrew from the Australian Open with a calf muscle strain. Then ...
"I was hoping to play either Tokyo or Chicago, but had another calf muscle strain and had to take off another couple of weeks," said Graf, speaking by telephone from her Boca Raton home last week.
Before anyone frets that Graf is a bundle of anxiety, remember this is Steffi Graf we're talking about. In her first tournament after a 12-week absence from competition, Graf steamrollered through the Open Gaz de France in straight sets last month.
"I didn't really know how it was going to work out," Graf said. "It was really surprising how I was playing."
It's not really surprising, knowing Graf. Even she acknowledges, in a rare mention of her grittiness, that her competitive drive hasn't suffered a bit, even though the results aren't on paper -- yet.
"If you had seen what I went through the past three or four months, you would see what drive I have," Graf said. "That says a lot."
Graf will begin the tournament playing a qualifier or Patricia Hy of Canada. Graf received a first-round bye and might not play until Tuesday or Wednesday.
Miami's Mary Joe Fernandez, who upset Conchita Martinez on Friday in Indian Wells, Calif., also has a first-round bye as the No. 6 seed. She will play Germany's Christina Singer or a qualifier, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.
Fourth-ranked Martinez is the second seed and No. 10 Anke Huber is seeded third. Part-time Delray Beach resident Brenda Schultz, No. 14, is the fourth seed.
The tournament would have had its strongest field in years had Jana Novotna and Kimiko Date not dropped out with shoulder injuries.
The qualifying tournament continues at 10 a.m. today and is free to the public.
Catalina Cristea, Romania, d. Kim Deweille, Netherlands, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4; Anca Barna, Germany, d. Karina Quentrec, France, 6-1, 6-4; Nino Louarsabishvili, Germany, d. Caroline Amlalh, Netherlands, 6-0, 6-1; Emily Bond, England, d. Larissa Schaerer, Paraguay, 7-6, 6-4; Lorenzo-Sanchez, Spain, d. Anne Miller, USA, 6-4, 7-6; Claire Wood, England, d. Maureen Drake, Canada, 6-3, 7-6; Federica, Fortuni, Italy, d. Riko Hiraki, Japan, 6-4, 6-2; Maria Vento, Ven, d. Shannon McCarthy, USA, 6-3, 6-2; Cristina Torrensvaleno, Spain, d. Maike Koustaal, Netherlands, 7-6, 6-3; Laura Garrone, Italy, d. Narhalie Herreman, France, 6-4, 6-2; Rito Grande, Italy, d. Julie Steven, USA, 6-4, 6-4; Tatiana Panova, d. Maria Jose Gaidano, Argentina, 6-3, 6-4; Elena
Savoldi, Italy, d. Elly Hakami, USA, 6-2, 6-4; Kristina Triska, USA d. Maja Hurie, Croatia, 7-5, 6-0; Tamarine Tanasugarin, Thailand, d. Anne Hall, USA, 6-4, 6-4; Jana Nejedly, Canada, d. Yvette Basting, Netherlands, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
* What: $430,000 Delray Beach Winter Championships.
* Who: Draw includes defending champion Steffi Graf, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Anke Huber, Gigi Fernandez, Helena Sukova, Sabine Hack and Brenda Schultz.
* When: Main draw begins Monday; qualifying continues today. Two sessions Monday through Friday: 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Saturday semifinals: 2 p.m.; Sunday final: 2 p.m.
* Where: Delray Beach Tennis Center, 50 NW First Ave., Delray Beach. Directions: Take I-95 to Atlantic Avenue, then go east to Swinton Avenue. Look for signs.
* Draw: 56 singles, 28 doubles, 32 qualifying.
* For information or tickets: (305) 491-7115.