Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2 - Page 217 -
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post #3241 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 2014, 03:44 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Remember, Steffi wasn't even playing in this tournament. No food or drink past this point.

Hack a start to challenging Graf's dominance
Houston Chronicle
Monday, March 28, 1994
DALE ROBERTSON, Houston Chronicle Staff Writer

IT must be Monday morning because, yawn, a 24-year-old blonde German person with killer legs whose first name begins with "S" is off to the bank with a fat check after winning a women's tennis tournament

But at least today it's a different 24-year-old blonde German person with killer legs whose first name begins with "S."

Sabine Hack -- as in "hock," which is where she surely won't be after leaving Texas $80,000 the richer -- rallied to defeat Mary Pierce 7-5, 6-4 in the Virginia Slims of Houston final Sunday. It was the biggest victory of Hack's career and her first outside Brazil, where her two other titles in eight pro seasons came.

It also pulled Hack to within 81 tour championships and, oh, $13.5 million of matching Steffi Graf's career totals.

Now on the whole, I'd say Sabine's hacking Pierce to pieces is better for the star-depleted women's game than Graf, Hack's onetime under-14s doubles partner in junior tennis, summarily bullying another tournament field into whimpering surrender.

Since the first of the year, Graf has won 28 consecutive matches and five tournaments, yielding only one set in the process. She, of course, removed herself from the role of off-the-board favorite here only by not deigning to enter.

She never has, something I find irritating since Houston is where the circuit that made possible her fame and fortune came into being. At the risk of sounding vindictive, perhaps it serves her right to be stove up for an indeterminate period with a knee injury, suffered while she practiced in Boca Raton last week. Dammit, she should have been with us instead.

Then again, Graf ought not to be asked to indefinitely carry the women's game all by her lonesome while everyone else sits around anguishing over when -- or if -- Monica Seles will resurface. Although it desperately needs the Garbo-esque Seles to force Steffi to break a sweat, at some point somebody else must fill the void.

Hack would be a natural, given her looks and how diligently she stalks a tennis ball. But she lacks presence and panache. While she would have us believe there's a negligible difference between herself and Graf in terms of raw ability, she readily owns up to the gross disparity between their brains.

Sabine, for whom pressure has always been a daunting adversary, was never certain she could win Sunday until she did so, until Pierce -- a head case in her own right because of a lunatic father from hell -- finally sailed a backhand long at fifth match point.

It was Pierce's 50th unforced error of the chilly, blustery afternoon. Hack was far more a beneficiary of her opponent's largess than a master of her fate.

"Steffi has more confidence than me," Hack said. "She's really tough mentally, after having won so much. She's a very special player, that's for sure."

Extraordinarily special. But Steffi the Steamroller wouldn't be winning ad nauseam if Seles hadn't been knifed by a maniacal Graf fan last year or if Jennifer Capriati hadn't slipped into a teen funk, or if Gabriela Sabatini hadn't zoned out, or if Martina Navratilova's fountain of eternal youth hadn't finally dried up.

For now, assuming Graf isn't badly hurt, it's Steffi by her lonesome in first class with everyone else in the cattle car. She has no peers, competitively speaking, and the power imbalance makes it a poor juncture for the tour to be confronting a crossroads.

Kraft Foods pulled its support at the end of last year, and its parent company, Philip Morris, so long the ladies' generous benefactor, is presumed to be following suit. Ironically, the once-endangered Houston event is actually on stronger footing than the circuit as a whole.

On this perfectly lousy day for tennis, with live TV to boot, almost a full house turned out and, fortified by mass quantities of cappuccino, seemed to enjoy a smashing time.

Other than Pierce's having to be practically dragged from the chow line to ensure the final's starting on time, the worst thing tournament director Barbara Perry faced all week was a Hill Country nudist resort's having set up an explicit display booth in the arcade at the entrance to the Westside Tennis Club.

"They misrepresented themselves to us," Perry sniffed.

No, the Live Oak Ranch won't return next year. But Barbara is certain she will, no matter what comes down regarding the tour at large. It would be great if she could bring Graf with her; even greater if Steffi's presence had by then become irrelevant, if Hack, Pierce and their peers had restored a measure of parity.

Don't bet any ranch on that, though. You'll lose your britches, too
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post #3242 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 2014, 03:50 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

This put Steffi in Monica's role of absent No. 1, and Arantxa in Steffi's role of saying she will miss the challenge.

The State
Columbia, SC
Saturday, March 26, 1994
BOB COLE, Senior Writer

The Family Circle Magazine Cup lost its No. 1-seeded player for the fourth straight year Friday when Steffi Graf announced she is withdrawing because of a knee injury.

Graf said in a hastily arranged teleconference that she first noticed the problem Tuesday while running in Boca Raton, Fla., where she has a home, and it was worse the next day. She said a physiotherapist diagnosed it as a sprained ligament above her left knee. She is flying to Essen, Germany, today for further evaluation and treatment.

Graf said it is a reoccurrence of an injury sustained earlier this season, but the problem is worse now than it was then.

"It wasn't very strong at first, and I thought I could keep on practicing, but the next day it got worse and I couldn't even run or walk on it," she said. "It's very disappointing to have to miss the Family Circle Cup because they have the best players in the field and I haven't had a challenge now for a while and I thought it would be a very good tournament for me to play because of the competition. Because that's what I'm always looking forward to."

Monica Seles withdrew as the tournament's No. 1 seed in 1993 and '92, and Graf pulled out in '91 after breaking a thumb in a skiing accident.

Graf said she had no idea how long she would have to sit out; a release from the Women's Tennis Association said she hopes to rejoin the tour at her next scheduled tournament, the Citizen Cup in Hamburg, Germany.

Graf said she was feeling tired after winning the Lipton Championships last week in Florida but said Friday she didn't think that was a factor in the injury.

"The craziest thing was I was very tired playing tournaments, but I know to play Hilton Head I would have to start working out very soon," she said. "I started actually on Sunday to do a little bit of workouts (the day after winning the Lipton), and I think that was maybe a mistake because I was trying too soon to maybe do too much.

"The physiotherapist said a week (off) would help a lot. I'm just not really allowed to do a lot of movements right now. I have a very tight tape around it so I won't be able to move sideways, and I've had some treatment on it, electronic stimulation and things like that."

The tournament has also lost Mary Joe Fernandez, who withdrew from the Lipton because of health reasons and has not sufficiently recovered to play singles. She is playing this week in the Light N' Lively Doubles in Tampa, Fla.

Second-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario will inherit Graf's No. 1 seeding for next week's tournament at Hilton Head Island's Sea Pines Resort.
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post #3243 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 2014, 04:30 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Bob Cole nails it. All the "Let's make it more like World Team Tennis!" gimmicks or "Let's try to sell celebrity personalities!" dodges will not fix the problem. I love how he works in a mention of Andrea Jaeger, because the WTA has been in almost the same position before. A lot of credit should be given to Arantxa for seeing and saying that the solution is for her (and the other players) to play better. "To beat her, you have to play your best and take all your chances that you have during the matches." Thank you, Arantxa, thank you! Even Lindsay Davenport, still just a kid at this time, had a sense that she needs to do what Steffi does. And Steffi herself was all but saying "Come on, you bums!" But the WTA management just fiddles while the Foro Italico or whatever burns. Cut the 90 second changeovers in half? 1) Those 90 second changeovers are where the bulk of your TV revenue comes from, at least in the U.S. market; 2) If people are complaining about how short the matches are, 45 second changeovers will only make it worse.

The State
Columbia, SC
Sunday, March 27, 1994
BOB COLE, Senior Writer

Family Circle Magazine Cup officials were presented a bad-news, good-news scenario when Steffi Graf withdrew from the 22nd annual event last week. The bad news: They lost their No. 1 seed and the No. 1 player in the world. The good news: They'll have a more competitive tournament.

With Graf in the field, everybody else is playing for second place. Without her, it's wide open.

Graf's domination of women's tennis is a sad fact that the Women's Tennis Association is having to confront these days. Consider: Unchallenged in the absence of former No. 1 Monica Seles, Graf has won four straight Grand Slam tournaments and 32 straight matches dating to last November.

Or this: she's lost just one set this year -- that to Natalia Zvereva last week -- and hasn't come close to losing a match.

Graf's chokehold on the women's game isn't likely to change in the foreseeable future. Seles hasn't played since being stabbed by a spectator in Germany last April and says she probably won't play at all this year. And, sad to say, Seles is the only player with the weapons to challenge Graf.

The women's tour faces a huge television marketing problem. The problem is so bad, ESPN cut its broadcast time of the women at the Australian Open in January to one week.

"Tennis is down 30 percent across the board," Dave Zucker, vice president for programming at ESPN, said.

Women too 'predictable'

The problem, former men's No. 1 player Jim Courier says, is that most women's matches have predictable outcomes, particularly where Graf is concerned.

"No one wants to see a sure thing," he said. "What men's tennis has going for it is parity -- people come out and see me play a guy who isn't ranked in the top 100 and it can be a tight match.

"It's difficult to create excitement when you have a girl who hasn't lost a match since the No. 1 player (Seles) got hurt."

Compounding the problem is the loss of personalities capable of drawing mass TV audiences. Such as Jennifer Capriati, who burst onto the scene three years ago billed as the next Chris Evert, but has since dropped off the tour to finish high school and try to determine if she really wants a career in the sport.

And Martina Navratilova, who revolutionized the women's game with her strength and athleticism, but has lost a step and the sting in her racket and is retiring in December.

Navratilova understands the problem but isn't sure how to solve it.

"When you have two of the biggest names not playing, that's going to take a lot out of any sport," she said. "When you take superstars out of the game, you're going to have problems. Hopefully they'll come back, but for now, it definitely leaves a void there.

"That's a void that I'm not going to fill and Steffi can't do it all by herself, either. It's (developing new potential superstars) been slow the last four or five years. Really, Jennifer is the only big name that came up. Usually, you have a really big potential superstar coming up every year, but that hasn't happened lately."

Game's big names missing

Andrea Jaeger, once ranked No. 2 in the world as a teen sensation in the early 1980s, says part of the problem -- at least, for American audiences -- is that foreigners now dominate the women's game.

"The American public wants to see their kids out there, they want to see an American No. 1 like they saw for so many years in (Chris) Evert and (Tracy) Austin. We don't seem to have anyone like that now, and it's going to hurt American tennis.

"Look at the men's game. You've got the likes of (Pete) Sampras, Courier, (John) McEnroe, (Andre) Agassi -- look down the men's top 20 at how many Americans are in there. That's what's going to develop your next generation of players."

Women's tennis officials admit they are concerned about the game's diminishing television appeal, and are considering ways to spice up the product. Like using red balls, cutting the 90-second changeovers in half to speed it up, and TV spots during matches showing players in more socialized settings, designed to highlight their personalities.

"The public isn't involved enough in tennis tournaments, that's obvious," Navratilova said. "When I play team tennis, the people really get into it, every night is a special happening, and the promoters do extras to keep the fans interested. It may be gimmicks, but they do it in other professional sports, why not tennis?"

Or, come up with a few more players who can compete at Graf's level.
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post #3244 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 2014, 05:16 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Originally Posted by djul14 View Post
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
Believe it or not, the English language media were actually pretty "nice" to Steffi. Sometimes, it's almost like a case of punch clock adversaries.
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post #3245 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2014, 04:59 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Fast forward one more year, to 1995. Steffi, making a careful return from injuries, has played only one tournament.

The Palm Beach Post
Friday, March 3, 1995
CHARLES ELMORE, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Jana Novotna, Kimiko Date and Helena Sukova - ranked No. 5, No. 8 and No. 17 in the world respectively - have withdrawn from the Delray Beach Winter Championships tennis tournament, promoter George Liddy said Thursday.

No replacements were announced. The tournament draw is supposed to be figured today with play scheduled to begin Monday.

Liddy said injuries played a role in the withdrawals, though no details were available for any of the three.

Date's entry was announced early last month after she became the first Japanese to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. At that time Novotna and Sukova, both from the Czech Republic, were listed as having signed up.

Agents for the players could not be reached.

Steffi Graf, the No. 2 player in the world and the tournament's defending champion, remains in the field, though injuries are on her mind as well.

``Last year (in Delray Beach) I was physically in top shape, I had just won the Australian Open and I had an incredible streak going,'' Graf said Thursday by telephone from Boca Raton, where she owns a home.

``Now I come in having played only one or two tournaments in the last five or six months. Obviously the confidence is affected. You haven't played and you don't know how you're going to do.''

Graf hurt her back at the Canadian Open last summer and also has been bothered by calf injuries since.


WHEN: Monday through March 12.

WHERE: Delray Beach Tennis Center (seats 8,000).

WHO: Five of the top 20 women's players in the world competing for $430,000 purse, including No. 2 Steffi Graf, No. 4 Conchita Martinez, No. 10 Anke Huber, No. 15 Sabine Hack and No. 19 Mary Joe Fernandez of Miami.

TICKETS: Daily tickets range from $12 to $25 for sessions starting at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. through Friday. Package ticket for final three rounds $79. Call (305) 491-7115 for information.

DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 95, take the Atlantic Avenue East exit in Delray Beach (not Pompano). Go 1 mile. Tennis center is on the left.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The withdrawals are just beginning -- and it's more or less going to be the death of this tournament.

Friday, March 3, 1995

Top-10 players Jana Novotna and Kimiko Date and four-time Grand Slam finalist Helena Sukova pulled out of the Delray Beach Winter Championships Thursday, dealing the women's tournament a major blow four days before its Monday start.

Novotna, ranked fifth in the world, and Date, No. 8, withdrew with shoulder injuries. Sukova, a semifinalist at Delray last year, has a possible career-ending back injury.

The losses left the tournament with three top-10 players, though one is No. 1 Steffi Graf, the best draw in the women's game.

Graf, who has played only one tournament this year because of injury, said Thursday she not only is playing Delray but also is eager to get back to competition.

She won the Gaz de France, an indoor tournament in Paris, on Feb. 19, defeating Mary Pierce in straight sets, and will be seeded No. 1 at Delray ahead of Conchita Martinez, Anke Huber, Brenda Schultz, Sabine Hack, Mary Joe Fernandez, Irena Spirlea and Nathalie Tauziat.

Novotna would have been seeded third and Date fourth. Graf, ranked second in the world behind Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, and Martinez (4) and Huber (10) are now the only top-10 players in the tournament.

Although Sukova's injury reportedly is "very serious," not much is known about the severity of the damage in Novotna's and Date's shoulders. It is possible they are not badly injured but don't want to take a chance on aggravating the injuries and missing The Lipton (March 17-26), which has more prize money and more ranking points.

With three spots opening up, the top three seeds in the qualifying tournament were elevated to the main draw - Maria Strandlund of Sweden, Tatiana Ignatieva of Belarus and Katarina Studenikova of Slovakia.
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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.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Palm Beach Post
Sunday, March 5, 1995

Last year at this time, Steffi Graf was blasting serves of 102 mph at Arantxa Sanchez Vicario at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.

In the final, Graf hit three straight service winners to close out a 6-3, 7-5 victory. It was as close as anyone had come to winning a set from Graf in 22 straight matches.

Now, with the Delray Beach Winter Championships set to begin Monday, the sure-bet assumptions of a year ago are gone, shredded in back and calf injuries have kept Graf sidelined for most of the last six months.

``It's very frustrating,'' Graf said. ``You practice and practice and you don't know what you're practicing for.''

Though Graf comes in as the No. 1 seed, defending champion and five-time winner, that can't-lose feeling has faded in months of rehabilitation. After briefly regaining her world No. 1 ranking two weeks ago, Graf has dropped to No. 2 behind Sanchez Vicario, who isn't playing Delray this year.

For Graf, the issue of the moment isn't returning to No. 1. That's not mathematically possible anyway for at least three weeks. No, the top goal is ``not being injured.''

Don't mistake that for taking it easy, she said.

``It you knew what I've gone through in the last three or four months, you'd know what drive I still have,'' Graf said.

Graf looked strong in returning to action at the Paris Open last month, where she trounced Mary Pierce 6-2, 6-2 in the finals.

Still, the 25-year-old German star, who owns a home in Boca Raton, said her movements didn't always feel instinctive. There were times in Paris when ``I didn't know where I was'' on the court.

She denies that her sore back inhibits her serving motion or otherwise limits her game on the court, but she admits that it sometimes cuts short her practice time.

Her toughest competition in Delray Beach could come from No. 2 seed Conchita Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon champion who is ranked No. 4 in the world.

``She uses the court well,'' Graf said of Martinez. ``She finds great angles. Her topspin forehand makes her very dangerous.''

The top seeds in Delray: 1. Graf, 2. Martinez, 3. Anke Huber, 4. Brenda Schultz, 5. Sabine Hack, 6. Mary Joe Fernandez, 7. Irina Spirlea, 8. Yayuk Basuki, 9. Nathalie Tauziat, 10. Marianne Werdel Witmeyer, 11. Gigi Fernandez, 12. Barbra Rittner, 13. Angelica Gavaldon, 14. Larisa Neiland, 15. Shi-Ting Wang, 16. Florencia Labat.


A) Protective athletic gear for Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

B) The shortened, official name for what used to be called the Federation Cup - women's competition in a format similar to the Davis Cup.

The correct answer is of course B, and this year South Florida hosts a large chunk of the action. The U.S. team, captained by Billie Jean King, will host Austria April 22 and 23 at Turnberry Isle Resort and Club in Aventura, in Dade County. If the U.S. team wins, it will host the winner of France-South Africa on July 22-23.

FREEBIES: Can't beat these prices - the Tennis Industry Association is giving away a free tennis lesson to 4,000 new players in South Florida for 10 days before the Lipton Championships March 17-26.

For information on where to find the nearest of 37 sites in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties where players can sign up, call (407) 395-0128.

NOTEWORTHY: Andres Gomez, who turned 35 last week, has become the youngest player to join the 35-and-over Champions tour that begins its second season April 5-9 at the Boca Raton Resort and Club . . . The U.S. Professional Tennis Registry will conduct a 10-day tennis teacher workshop at the Polo Club in Boca Raton March 31-April 1. For information, call (800) 421-6289.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I have often thought that they should have divided by number of matches played rather than number of tournaments played for the divisor rankings.

Steffi's Back - For Now
Graf's No. 1 Priority These Days Is Her Health, Not Her Ranking

March 5, 1995

DELRAY BEACH - — She's not wearing a brace. There is no hitch in her steps, no breach of those wondrous fast-twitch muscles that helped vault her to the top of women's tennis.

Really, if you hadn't known Steffi Graf had just spent weeks rehabilitating a bad back, you'd never suspect life had changed for her, perhaps for the rest of her career.

No longer are Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Mary Pierce, or even the pale shadow of Monica Seles, the greatest threats to her supremacy. Her constant and most important opponent now is her health.

There comes a moment in the lives of all great athletes when their bodies, beaten and used by years of hard work, begin the breakdown process.

On the eve of the Delray Beach Winter Championships, only her second tournament of the year, Graf must be wondering, even at the youthful age of 25, whether her time has come.

This is a woman whose body has taken a severe pounding over the years. When she takes the court Tuesday afternoon for her first match, probably against Patricia Hy of Canada, it will be the 812th of a 12 1/2-year professional career. But in any discussion of the wear and tear Graf has gone through, one must also factor in her near-fanatical commitment to training.

Though she has finished her last eight years as No. 1 or No. 2 in the world, her ranking no longer is paramount on her mind.

"For me, there is nothing else to think about now but being injury-free. And that will be really difficult," Graf said. "I am just concentrating on that and nothing else. I am not even thinking about No. 1."

This should not be a difficult tournament for Graf, with world No. 5 Jana Novotna and No. 8 Kimiko Date late withdrawals because of injuries.

Sanchez Vicario, who has replaced Graf as world No. 1, is not here and will remain No. 1 regardless of how Graf does this week. Neither Pierce nor Gabriela Sabatini is in attendance. The only other top 10 players are No.3 Conchita Martinez and No. 10 Anke Huber.

Nevertheless, everything Graf does this week will be measured. Did she give up too many games to the No. 100 player in the world? Did she tire under the hot Delray sun? Didn't she used to hit that forehand blindfolded?

A year ago, when she won this tournament for the fifth time (and third in a row), she came in on a 21-match win streak to start the year.

Today, she has played only four matches in 1995, breezing through the Gaz de France indoor tournament in Paris by whipping Pierce in the final Feb. 19. And amazing herself in the process.

"I didn't know how it would work out. I was really surprised the way I was playing. I was anxious and excited to play and was hoping to do well. But I didn't expect to win right off."

There is no perceptible change in Graf's game. She has had to make no concessions on court to her back injury.

But there are distinctive changes in her off-court work. You are less likely to see Graf trotting down A1A on one of her daily beach-side jogs in Boca Raton. And she is scaling back her training sessions.

"I won't be practicing as long as I used to," she conceded.

Despite her early comeback success in Paris, she knows her sharpness is not quite there. "Last year I had played a couple of tournaments and was physically in top shape," she said. "I won in Tokyo and at the Australian Open. I had practiced two weeks to get ready for Paris this year. But, really, I didn't feel physically fit."

If she brings anything new into 1995 it is a heightened awareness of the importance of taking care of her body.

Her back first flared at the Canadian Open (Aug. 15-21), where she lost to Sanchez Vicario in the final. She might have taken care of the problem right there, but she let it slide right into the U.S. Open, where it went into spasm several times in another final loss to Sanchez Vicario.

She took time off after that but tried to play the Virginia Slims Championships (Nov. 14-20) and lost in the second round to Pierce.

Finally, she got serious about her back. She went into intensive therapy and thought she was ready to play the Australian Open on Jan. 16. But she strained a calf muscle in workouts, and that cost her more time off.

If there is one goal for Graf in 1995, it is to get through this year without a recurrence of her back problem and without any other serious injuries. Perhaps that would give her the confidence that this back problem has been only a warning, that the breakdown process hasn't arrived yet.

She has been asked innumerable times since Seles left the tour two years ago whether she is bored with tennis, whether there are more challenges out there for her. There certainly is now.

"If you knew what I've gone through for my back in order to get back out here, you'd know how much drive I still have," she said.
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post #3250 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2014, 05:15 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

No letup for Graf despite time off to rehab injuries
St. Petersburg Times
March 7, 1995

Since Steffi Graf was 4 years old, her life has been tennis. Tournaments around the globe. Red-eye flights from Hamburg to Hong Kong. Seven-week stretches without a few days' rest.

So this year, when a nagging back injury and a painful calf strain afforded her two months of tennis-free time off, do you think she has been on a beach somewhere in a relaxation stupor?

Truth be told, the 15-time Grand Slam champion has been working her butt off doing fitness drills, stretching and muscle relaxation techniques. You name it, Steffi's done it.

"I've never spent that much time working out. These last couple of months have been very difficult," said Graf, who decided to stay at her Boca Raton home over the holidays instead of going home to Germany. "I haven't really had much time to do stuff besides (working out)."

Graf, 25, said her doctors told her that if she didn't take care of her fragile back, she might not be able to play tennis anymore.

"I absolutely accept it because it's what I wanted to do," Graf said. "I mean, it's not an injury that's going to get better."

Despite the millions she has earned and the 85 titles she's won, Graf is still hungry. In her only tournament of the year, the Open Gaz de France last month, she blew through the competition without losing a set.

Oblivious to being ranked No. 2 behind Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and determined to remain healthy, Graf is the top seed at this week's Delray Beach Winter Championships.

"I just want to play," Graf said. "I can't expect to be No. 1 if I'm not playing. I think I have to earn it and that will come in time."

What retirement?: Martina Navratilova said she was going to retire after last season, but her name seems to be popping up all over the place these days.

First, she entered the Virginia Slims Legends Tour that makes a stop at Saddlebrook Resort, April 8-9. Then, she announced she'll play on the U.S. Fed Cup team that opens this year's Davis Cup-like competition at Turnberry Isle in Aventura, April 22-23.

Of course, nobody's complaining, particularly newly appointed U.S. Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King, who also will play on the Legends tour.

"(Navratilova) gives us a balance of youth and experience and provides me with the ability to select a strong team for any site or surface," said King, who has at her disposal Mary Joe Fernandez, Amy Frazier, Lori McNeil, Zina Garrison and Gigi Fernandez, among others.

Pret a Porter: Now comes the news we've all been waiting for - Andre Agassi has released his 1995 clothing schedule.

At the Lipton Championships later this month, Agassi will sport his Nike Challenge Court oversized outfits. He'll alternate between a white and black plaid design and a hazelnut and black set. He'll wear both with his black and teal Air Challenge LWP sneakers.

At Wimbledon, he'll tone it down with all-white Challenge Court gear and black and white sneakers that have a hint of silver.

At the U.S. Open, he'll sport his micro-fiber shorts with a polo-type shirt. His sneakers will be black and white with a splash of metallic copper.

Speaking of Agassi: This is the week the second-ranked Las Vegas pro could push Pete Sampras out of the ATP Tour No. 1 spot.

Both are playing in a tournament in Indian Wells, Calif. If Sampras loses early and Agassi wins, we'll have a new No. 1.

Hasta la vista, baby: Conchita Martinez and her coach, Eric van Harpen, reportedly have parted company - get this - because of Gigi Fernandez.

Seems van Harpen is upset that Martinez has been taking more tennis advice from her friend Fernandez than from van Harpen, who has coached Martinez for seven years.

"Conchita is old enough to make decisions for herself, but she has been relying too much on Gigi," van Harpen was quoted in British newspapers.

Fernandez, who still has a busy pro tour schedule herself, supposedly has become Martinez's coach as well. She's got her work cut out for her. Martinez had several early round losses late last year and has reached just one semifinal this season.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

A repost, but a fun one. Steffi Graf, the hopeless fan of a hopeless (at the time) franchise.

My Hoop Dream: Steffi Vs. Martina
March 7, 1995

DELRAY BEACH — I see Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova in a little one-on-one hoops. I see Steffi whipping the old lady with her outside shooting. I see Martina muscling down deep for some easy baskets.

"Hmmm," Graf mused Monday. "Yes, it would be interesting. But I think she'd probably beat me up."

I don't know. The way Graf said "interesting," with a kind of faraway look in her eyes, I got the feeling the seed has been planted.

These are the two preeminent athletes in women's tennis today and it's no coincidence that two women with such adroit athletic skills in tennis would be so intensely interested in basketball.

The game has become, after tennis and soccer, the most international of sports.

Anyone who knows anything about Navratilova knows she was turned on to the game by former women's player Nancy Lieberman. She then used basketball as a cross-training exercise for tennis.

Graf's background in hoops is less well known, but she is no novice at the game, even if she hasn't shot it around in three or four years.

She learned to play growing up in Germany and when she was invited to Germany's Olympic training center to work on her tennis, she met and received some personal tutoring from the national team basketball coach.

Crazy about the Heat

How good is she? I don't know. I've never seen her handle the ball. But I've seen her play tennis enough to know that if she got serious about women's basketball, she'd be good. Damn good. Good enough to send Martina back to the Lieberman Clinic for some remedial work.

When Graf settled in Boca Raton nine years ago, her interest in basketball was heightened by the number of NBA games she could get on her TV set. And when the Heat started up, it took her, as she put it, "to a new dimension."

When she's not on the road, she shows up for Heat games more often than John Salley. And, yes, she goes as crazy as the fans in the cheap seats.

Only, she pointed out, there is a lot less to go crazy about these days at the Miami Arena.

Still, she said proudly, "I'm not giving up. I'm still going, no matter what."

Last week, she was at home in Boca with her parents, who are visiting from Germany. "We're watching the Denver game and the Heat comes from behind and I'm screaming in my seat," Graf says. "Then my mother gets into it. And the Heat loses."

Graf sags. She's living and dying with these guys.

Let'em play at halftime

She is, to most tennis fans, generally unemotional. She goes about her business on court with clinical precision. When things don't go well, she doesn't throw rackets or kick the umpire's chair.

But at Heat games, she turns into Ms. Hyde. "That's one of the great things about America," she said.

You go to a game and the people sitting around you become your friends for a night. "They start yelling. `What's he doing?' Or, `Why did he take that shot?' And then I get into it. People are friendlier in the U.S."

You got to love the Heat a lot to drive down from Boca, about 55 miles away. But Steffi has given a lot of herself to these stiffs.

It's about time they gave something back. They don't have to put together a 10-game win streak. I'd settle for a Graf-Navratilova night.

Martina will be down here next month for the Fed Cup matches at Turnberry Isle.

How about the people running the Heat promotion department get on the honker and give her and Graf a call and set it up at halftime. First one to 15 by ones.

It will be better entertainment than the other show going on in there.
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post #3252 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2014, 05:19 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2


The Palm Beach Post
Tuesday, March 7, 1995

So here is Steffi Graf, the reclusive tennis mega-star too shy to go on the David Letterman Show for the past seven years, explaining how she fell into a pool and bruised her left leg three days ago while clowning with a male friend in Boca Raton.

Hmmm. Not the usual injury report from the hard-training winner of 15 Grand Slam titles.

"Here, you can probably feel the bruise," said Graf, raising the leg of her jeans and allowing a brief tactile inspection of her No. 2-in-the-world-ranked left shin.

There it is: An elongated purplish patch maybe 2 inches long, and a bump near the shin bone.

Quite clearly, Graf has broken the all-important "No Horseplay" rule governing proper pool-side behavior, and she has paid the price.

But this does not seem to faze this carefree, off-day version of Graf - Steffi Unplugged. She's in civilian clothes because this is Monday, and she has a bye for the first round of the Delray Beach Winter Championships, where she is the top seed. Today, Graf will play Spain's Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, a 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner Monday over Patricia Hy Boulais.

Graf said the male person involved - "just a friend" - playfully threw her into the pool at her Boca Raton home and her lower left leg hit a step. Graf said she should be able to play with no ill effects.

"It's nothing serious," Graf said. "I'm fine."

Still, the mere thought of any part of Steffi Graf hitting something besides a tennis ball is enough to do unpleasant things to the blood pressure of tournament director Sharon O'Connor. Three of the tournament's nine top 20 players pulled out last week because of injuries. The last thing she needs is to hear that Graf - her No. 1 seed, the world's No. 2 player, the top crowd draw - has gone off the deep end injury-wise. Or, as the case may be, the shallow end.

"All I can say is, ignorance is bliss," O'Connor said. "I didn't know, and I don't like hearing near-miss stories."

Perhaps after all the injury problems Graf has had in the last six months - first it was her back, then her calf - she deserves to laugh at one that could have been serious, but wasn't.

In any case, Graf went shopping for a new couch, on which to read author Herman Hesse and watch Miami Heat basketball (now her favorite team ahead of the Knicks).

Not planned: Pool parties.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Houston Chronicle
Tuesday, March 7, 1995
Associated Press

Gaudenzi rebounds -- Andrei Gaudenzi of Italy recovered from a lethargic first set to beat Richard Fromberg of Australia 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) in the first round of the $1.8 million Newsweek Champions Cup at Indian Wells, Calif

Gaudenzi, seeded 13th, was the only seed to play on the opening day of the eight-day tournament.

In other first-round matches, David Wheaton eliminated Cedric Pioline of France 6-3, 6-1 and Arnaud Boetsch of France topped Adam Peterson 6-1, 6-2.

Dosedel tops Langwardt -- Top seed Slava Dosedel of the Czech Republic beat Patrick Langwardt of Denmark 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Copenhagen Open in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In other singles matches, Luiz Mattar of Brazil beat Paul Wekesa of Kenya 7-6 (6-4), 6-3 and Greg Rusedski of Canada overcame Carl-Uwe Steeb of Germany 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

Graf not concerned about No. 1 -- A fit Steffi Graf is eager to restart her stalled 1995 season. However, recapturing the top spot is not a priority.

Graf, the No. 2 player in the world since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario unseated her from a 20-month perch as No. 1, is the top seed at this week's $430,000 Delray Beach Winter Championships in Delray Beach, Fla. It is only her second tournament of the year after a series of injuries.

"Being No. 1 doesn't matter," Graf said Monday after getting a first-round bye. "I want to play more than anything else. I didn't feel like this was the way I wanted to end my career."

Today Graf will play Spain's Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, a 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner Monday over Patricia Hy Boulais.

France's Nathalie Tauziat, the ninth and highest seed to play Monday, had trouble with the wind before defeating Rita Grande of Italy 7-6 (6-2), 6-2.

No. 13 seed Angelica Gavaldon of Mexico posted a 6-4, 6-2 win over Tatiana Ignatieva, while Aussie Nicole Bradtke upset No. 15 Shi-Ting Wang of Taiwan 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
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post #3254 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 18th, 2014, 03:48 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Hey, it's windy again!

Wednesday, March 8, 1995

The wind was swirling, gusting up to 20 mph and taking the fine edge off Steffi Graf's game.

But she wasn't going to blow one Tuesday to a 17-year-old kid right off the futures circuit.

Down 1-3, 15-40 after winning the opening set, Graf threw together a nine-point winning streak and raced by Maria Sanchez Lorenzo 6-1, 7-5 to move into the third round of the Delray Beach Winter Championships.

It wasn't a classic. Graf's forehand ground strokes were too often out of control and, with her high toss, it was tough to put a rein on her serves in the unpredictable wind.

But Sanchez Lorenzo, who grew up in Salamanca, Spain, hitting two-handed from both sides, dissolved down the stretch like the tour novice she is. She hasn't learned to cork the bottle in a big match, but give her time. She has some talent.

"I never got nervous in the second set. I just let it get away from me," she said through an interpreter.

Graf, seeded No. 1, moved into the round of 32 with third-seeded Anke Huber of Germany, 13th-seeded Angelica Gavaldon and unseeded Nicole Bradtke of Australia. Huber beat Radka Bobkova 6-4, 6-3; Gavaldon routed Janet Lee 6-2, 7-5; and Bradtke beat her good friend and doubles partner, Kristine Radford 6-4, 6-0. She'll play Graf tonight at 6:30.

Four other seeded players on the docket won Tuesday: No. 10 Marianne Werdel Witmeyer beat Natalia Medvedeva 4-6, 6-4, 6-1; No. 11 Gigi Fernandez defeated Adriana Serra-Zanetti 6-2, 6-4; No. 12 Barbara Rittner dominated Elena Savoldi 6-0, 6-1; and No. 16 Florencia Labat turned back Tatjana Panova 6-1, 6-2.

With Linda Harvey-Wild and Jolene Watanabe losing, there are only four Americans left in the draw.

It was only Graf's fifth match of the year as she tries to work her way back to the WTA mountaintop after rehabilitation from a serious back injury and two weeks of therapy for a strained calf muscle. She is ranked No. 2 behind Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who is not playing this week. No matter what Graf does at this tournament, she will not seize No. 1 going into Lipton (March 17-26).

She looks and moves like the Graf who had been a dominant force since Monica Seles left the tour two years ago, but the bigger test will come when she runs into a seeded player, probably in the quarterfinals.

Graf might have been too active for the weather conditions. Her habit of jumping at her ground strokes cost her a little in this match. It was hard to time her strokes as the wind made the balls wiggle just before contact.

"When you're off your feet and the wind suddenly stops the ball ... it's tough," said her coach, Heinz Gunthardt.

With this win, Graf is 5-0 for the year. She won the Gaz de France, an indoor tournament in Paris, last month, beating Mary Pierce in the final.

She hasn't lost a set, and this was her 16th straight win at Delray Beach.

Sanchez Lorenzo, a clay court specialist who had to qualify to get into the main draw, is now 1-3 for the year. She beat Patricia Hy Boulais to make the second round.

Despite a lot of practice hours with men, she was caught off guard by the force and pace of Graf's biggest weapon, her forehand ground stroke.

"It is the best forehand I've ever seen from a woman player," she said. "In the beginning she had me back a bit. But I got used to it."

She began punishing Graf's erratic serves for a break and a 3-1 lead and had two chances to go up 4-1 in the second set.

"I didn't feel nervous," she insisted. "I felt like I played well, but it went against me."

Graf gave everyone a minor scare in the second set when she began shaking her left hand, as if she was in some pain.

"It was just the humidity. I was sweating so much it was running off my hand. Nothing hurts so far," she said.

There was a look of great relief on her face.
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post #3255 of 6247 (permalink) Old Feb 18th, 2014, 03:52 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Steffi puts some behinds in the seats and two more players withdraw...

The Palm Beach Post
Wednesday, March 8, 1995
CHARLES ELMORE, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Top seed Steffi Graf needed 1 hours, 10 minutes to beat unseeded Maria Sanchez Lorenzo of Spain, 6-1, 6-4 in the second round of the Delray Beach Winter Championships Tuesday.

By comparison, No. 3 seed and fellow German Anke Huber, ranked No. 10 in the world, took 63 minutes to subdue unseeded Radka Bobkova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3.

Huber, 19, said she hopes people will stop comparing her with Graf, 25, ranked No. 2 in the world.

``I think I'm through with that,'' Huber said. ``I've always said there's going to be no second Steffi. She's a special player and she's going to continue being that for years.''

Graf seemed to battle her own unforced errors as much as Sanchez Lorenzo in a rocky second set, which the young Spaniard led 3-1 at one point after breaking Graf's serve.

Graf rallied to win despite missing three of her last four first serves. The winning shot was a backhand volley that hit the net and dribbled over.

Graf's coach, Heinz Gunthardt, said Graf was a little impatient hitting some of her powerful forehands.

``She has a tendency to jump sometimes before hitting the ball,'' Gunthardt said. ``It's like Fred Flintstone - you can't go anywhere.''

Graf said, ``I really didn't step into the ball in the second set. And she was covering the court very well.''

Sanchez Lorenzo said she was nervous at first against Graf, whom she called the best player she ever played. But she couldn't hang on to her second-set lead. ``It got away from me,'' she said.

Sanchez Lorenzo did not lose for a lack of ear jewelry. She wore five earrings in her right ear and two more in her left.

MATCHES TO WATCH: No. 4 seed Brenda Schultz of the Netherlands, who also lives in Delray Beach, takes on unseeded Ai Sugiyama of Japan on center court at 11 a.m. today. Afterward, No. 2 seed Conchita Martinez sees her first action in singles against Catalina Cristea of Romania. That's followed by No. 6 seed Mary Joe Fernandez of Miami, fresh from an Evert Cup victory, meeting Christina Singer of Germany.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL: The WTA Tour has arranged, of all things, a beach volleyball game today featuring the players at Atlantic Ave and A1A in Delray Beach at 5:15 p.m.

Huber, the No. 3 seed, said she plans to participate, though Graf presumably will not, because she plays Nicole Brandtke at 6:30 p.m. on center court.

DROP SHOTS: Marianne Werdel-Witmeyer's introduction said her husband, Ron, is a basketball player, but in fact he is a baseball player who has a signed a minor-league contract with the replacement Oakland A's. ``I'm glad they got it wrong,'' she said. ``People probably would have booed.'' . . . Unseeded Alexia Dechaume-Ballaret (left thigh strain) and Patty Fendick (inner-ear infection) have withdrawn because of injury . . . Tickets sold Tuesday were 6,349 for the morning session, when Graf played, and 4,417 for the evening, organizers said.
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