Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
Thank goodness the "play an entire tournament in one morning" idea never came to be. Speaking as a Grafan, it would have been a hoot to see the tennis equivalent of the "Are you not entertained?" scene from "Gladiator," but it would have really, really, really killed women's tennis.
Graf rips Coetzer in Evert Cup final - Murrieta's Davenport, Raymond take doubles title.
Monday, February 28, 1994
INDIAN WELLS - Amanda Coetzer didn't go into yesterday's Evert Cup final thinking of winning, so she wasn't disappointed.
Steffi Graf didn't think about losing, so she wasn't disappointed, either. She's also the tournament champion - not that there had been any doubt of that outcome - after she went through the formality of beating Coetzer, 6-0, 6-4, in a 57-minute match on stadium court at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort.
Shortly thereafter, Lindsay Davenport of Murrieta and Lisa Raymond of Wayne, Pa., emerged as the doubles champions with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over the first-time, but second-seeded, team of Manon Bollegraf and Helena Sukova.
It was the first championship for Davenport and Raymond, who teamed up initially at Philadelphia last fall and plan on playing together at most of this year's events.
The victory over Coetzer was Graf's 21st in a row, her 17th this year without losing a set, and her fifth without a serious challenge in this tournament.
Before dispatching Coetzer, who was game but woefully overmatched, Graf took the measure of Gigi Fernandez (6-1, 6-2), Tracy Austin (6-0, 6-0), Ginger Helgeson (6-1, 6-3) and Iva Majoli (6-4, 6-1), and only the match against the slow-playing Helgeson lasted over an hour.
Graf said, "I didn't really have too much difficulty this week," which was obvious. So she was asked if she'd ever thought about just going on court one morning and staying there until she'd disposed of all challengers, queen-of-the-hill style.
"That would be interesting," she said, laughing. "I haven't thought about it. I'd have to see. Maybe I'd try it if the officials would say, 'C'mon.' "
Then Graf laughed again, in good spirits after pocketing a check for $80,000 and a Baccarat trophy signifying her first title in the Evert Cup, which she hadn't played before, and championship No. 82 in a career that began late in 1982.
She took the check and the trophy with her to Florida last night. She also took along a golden retriever puppy named Joshua that she bought at midweek, and another, superfluous endorsement as far and away the best in women's tennis.
Coetzer, 22, supplied that endorsement after her fourth loss in four matches with Graf. She also said the only way a baseline player can beat Graf is to have a perfect day while Graf has a bad one, and even then it may not be enough.
So she went into the match not "really thinking of beating her. I was more focused on every point and trying to stay with Steffi for a while."
Graf said she never thinks of losing while she's on the court. But neither is she bored or taking it for granted.
"I definitely feel confident," said Graf, 24. "But when I start a tournament, I don't think, `I want to win this.' Obviously, it's great if you do.
"I start off the tournament trying to get used to the surroundings and I try to play well. I'm not trying to build up towards (the end of) the tournament. But I'm not going in there saying `this is what I want to win' or `this is what I want to happen.'
"It's not like a shopping market."
Modesty, thy name is Stefanie (which she reportedly would prefer to be called). Three titles in three tournaments constitutes a shopping spree for most players. Ten titles in 15 tournaments, Graf's record last year, is beyond comprehension.
Graf isn't free of problems. She's forced to wear attire trimmed in blue, even though it isn't her favorite color, because adidas insists, at least for the first half of the year. Then she'll switch to something in pastel shades of red, pink and green, when if she had her way would be black or gray.
She isn't free of the need to work to sustain her excellence, either, and this year she has added weightlifting to her regimen.
The results justify the effort, though.
The past three tournaments, she said, "I haven't really been close to feeling like I'm not playing well. There hasn't been really a time where I could say I can't think of doing well. I've been playing so well that I went the last three tournaments without having any problems during my matches.
"That's pretty comforting."
It's also comforting to have no aches or pains with which to contend, and that's one of the reasons Graf seems so happy and content these days.
"The strange thing is, a number of people don't realize it, (but) I've been happy about everything that's going on in my life for quite some time now," she said. "The last thing I was missing was being injury free, and I've got that this year.
"Sometimes you're surprised how people think about you. But I've never really taken it to heart, because it just matters to myself, how I feel about myself and how I feel about doing the right things.
"I've been always very protective of my privacy, of my private life, and I've not really opened up too much. You have to accept it when people don't know you so well. That's fine."
So is her tennis, obviously.
So, too, was the tennis played yesterday by Davenport, 17, and Raymond, 20, who reached the quarterfinals at Philadelphia in their first match together.
Raymond, a two-time NCAA singles champion at Florida, said, "Our games compliment each other pretty well," with Davenport supplying the power and Raymond the agility.
"I'm a little more intense, sometimes," Davenport said. "We don't take it too seriously, but on the court we want to win."
They did that very well here, knocking off the top-ranked doubles team of Gigi Fernandez and Natalia Zvereva en route to the final. That helped their confidence yesterday, when they battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the second set.
Davenport said they get along extremely well off the court, too, which is important, and seldom discuss tennis.
"We talk about teen-age stuff and 20-year-old stuff," said Davenport.