Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2 - Page 227 -
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The whole Maleeva clan was easily "put off" by any and all close calls that went against them. Maybe it was just "From Behind the Iron Curtain" paranoia, maybe it was just a childish sore loser streak. Either way, they weren't going to fare particularly well in the Graf Era, with Steffi's penchant for going for the lines, often the outside edge of the lines, and usually with a low trajectory.

And if we were going to judge the accuracy of a call based on the crowd's reactions, Steffi would have never won at all against Gaby in Florida or New York (or Italy, for that matter).

Peter Alfano
Nov. 22, 1986
The New York Times

If Manuela Maleeva's face were a weather map, the forecast would be for rain. She has a Pagliacci look in victory and defeat, an expression that suggests she has just been given some bad news. Most of the time, it doesn't really convey how the No. 8 player in the world feels. Last night, however, it more than fit the mood, and there probably isn't an actress on Broadway who was suited to play Maleeva's part any more than she.

For the second night in a row, a match in the Virginia Slims championships was tarnished by the officiating, which has appeared to be far below the level expected in one of the bigger tournaments of the year. Maleeva and Steffi Graf of West Germany, the second-seeded player, were involved in a game of long-distance tennis - baseline to baseline - with the advantage swinging from one to the other almost as fast as the ball traveled over the net and back again.

The match was tied at 5-5 in the final set, and the two baseliners were engaged in another of their many rallies, forehand to forehand, backhand slice to backhand slice. Graf held a break point but hit a topspin forehand that appeared to land over the baseline. The fans hooted and whistled when the linesman did not make a call and the chair umpire, Judy Popkin, sat silently in her chair.

Throws Racquet in Disgust

Maleeva played out the point, netting a backhand, to go down a break. She threw her racquet down in disgust and walked in circles round the baseline before walking to her chair. Graf needed one more game to win the match, but Maleeva already looked beaten.

Graf served out the match as the hoots and howls of the crowd of 13,297 made it difficult to concentrate. Her 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Maleeva enabled her to advance to today's semifinals, in which she will play Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia, who defeated Claudia Kohde-Kilsch of West German, 6-3, 7-6. Martina Navratilova will face Pam Shriver in the other semifinal.

As was the case with Hana Mandlikova on Thursday night, when she was the victim of a poor call, Maleeva said she felt cheated. ''After the match, it was difficult to realize I was cheated at the most important moment of the match,'' Maleeva said. ''Five-all and deuce is a big difference than 6-5, Graf.''

Graf was several feet behind the baseline when Maleeva struck her forehand and said she was not in position to judge whether the shot was in or not. ''It could have been good, I don't know,'' she said. ''But it was too difficult to tell.''

Tournament Referee Comments

Lee Jackson, the tournament referee, said she thought the call was poor too, judging from the reaction of Maleeva and the fans at her end of the court. ''I saw Manuela hesitate a couple of times and knew if she lost that point what would happen,'' Jackson said. ''The officiating has been terrible this week.''

The linesmen and umpires are certified by the United States Tennis Association and are considered among the better ones in the sport. Jackson speculated that the light blue Supreme Court surface was the culprit.

''It is a glaring color, there is a reflection,'' she said. ''I think it makes the linesmen drowsy.''

The baseline style of Graf and Maleeva may have also contributed to that. Neither feels comfortable at the net, thus the exchanges tend to become tedious. Consider that Graf and Maleeva combined for 31 placement winners, but committed 52 unforced errors.

Maleeva said it was one of her better matches, though. No one would argue with her performance in the first set when she ran Graf from one line to the other and handled Graf's slice backhand well. ''I was pressuring her, making her run,'' Maleeva said. ''What is hurting me now is that I played so well, running for two hours like crazy for nothing.''

Uncommon Determination

Graf has struggled in her two matches, thus far, but her determination is uncommon for a 17-year-old. She fought back to win the second set, relying more on her topspin forehand to put Maleeva on the defensive. The ebb and flow continued in the third set as each player was broken a total of five times in the match. Just when it looked as if one had assumed control, the other would come back. Or they both would be guilty of bumbling.

Still, Maleeva could have lived with a defeat, if it were of her own doing. ''I'm from Bulgaria,'' she said, ''and before I came to the States, I never knew anyone could be cheated on the court. I could not have taken that point if it were for me. My conscience would not be clear. But I don't think Steffi could have done anything either.''
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post #3392 of 6247 (permalink) Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 01:16 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Shaking my head at how rampantly unprofessional women's professional tennis was. On one hand, the rules are clear about making noise during play, and Shriver had every right to claim a hindrance let -- but obviously Lee Jackson, who, you will recall from our previous installment, seemed all for judging the accuracy of line calls based on the crowd's and a player's reactions to them, decided some rules are more flexible than others. On the other hand ... Jesus H. Christ, Pam, it's just one point and it wasn't even a break point, and you were up 40-0 on your next service game. Here's some free worldly advice from Ms. Anthropic: If you don't have self-control, you won't have anything, or at least not anything that cannot be taken from you very quickly and easily. But I guess that's 30 years too late to help Pam's tennis career.

Young Steffi, meanwhile, is quite the observant realist. "Know the enemy, know yourself..."

Navratilova rallies to defeat Shriver
The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
Sunday, November 23, 1986
From Wire Reports

NEW YORK - Martina Navratilova rallied to beat a determined Pam Shriver 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 Saturday for her 52nd consecutive victory and a berth in the final of the $1 million Virginia Slims Championships tennis tournament.

The No. 1 seed will meet second-seeded Steffi Graf of West Germany, who ousted No. 4 Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia 7-6, 1-6, 6-1, in Sunday's best-of-five-sets championship.

The winner will collect $125,000, the runner-up will get $60,000.

Shriver played one of the best matches of her career, as she came close to repeating her upset over Navratilova in the quarterfinals of the 1982 U.S. Open.

"I thought it was over today," Navratilova said of her streak, the fourth-longest in modern tennis. Navratilova has strings of 74 and 54 matches, and Chris Evert Lloyd won 56 in a row.

Navratilova was almost down two breaks in the decisive third set when, for the third straight day, a controversial point played a key role in a match.

"I've never felt so positive about a match in my life," Shriver said. "I thought I was going to win it."

She might have won, except for the controversial point that came after Navratilova had rallied from a love-40 deficit to pull to deuce in the fifth game of the third set.

On the next point, Navratilova hit a shot that hit the net. Thinking she had missed the point, giving Shriver the advantage point, Navratilova began to berate herself.

But the ball climbed over the net and dropped at Shriver's side. Shriver raced to the ball, but she couldn't lift it back over the net.

Shriver complained to umpire Judy Popkin and tournament referee Lee Jackson, claiming Navratilova's vocal outburst interfered with her play.

"Pam's the only one who knows whether it affected her or not," Navratilova said. "I thought it was going into the net and so I started to say something. But then it hit the tape and I stopped. You can say that it was the turning point, but she was up 40-love in the next service game. . . . She probably thought about that point the whole match, but there were many turning points."

"It's obvious what happened," Shriver said. "The umpire's got to make the decision. It's an obstruction."

Shriver closed out the second set by holding serve at 15 and the match was even at one set apiece. Shriver grabbed the lead in the decisive third set, breaking Navratilova at 30 in the first game. They then traded service breaks in the next two games, setting up the tense and dramatic finish.

In the Graf-Sukova match, Graf had a 5-2 lead in the first set and was serving for the set when she lost serve at 30 as her big forehand deserted her. She finally took the tiebreak 7-5 after Sukova saved three set points.

Then it was Sukova's turn. She dominated, both the backcourt and at the net, to rush through the second set and tie the match.

But with Graf's 15-year-old brother, Micheal, who came to the United States on Friday for the first time, in the Madison Square Garden crowd of 17,128 watching, the 17-year-old West German found the range with her forehand. Pounding winner after winner, Graf easily brushed aside the tall Czechoslovak to reach the final.

The last time Navratilova and Graf met was in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, when Graf held three match points before Navratilova won in a third-set tie-break. Since that loss, Graf has won 17 straight matches.

"Everyone is expecting me to have a close match with Martina again, but I don't know," Graf said. "I don't feel as comfortable at the moment as I usually do."

Navratilova and Shriver later teamed up to win the doubles crown, defeating Sukova and West Germany's Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, 7-6, 6-3.

The champions shared $45,000, while Sukova and Kohde-Kilsch split $23,000.

Davis upsets Teltscher

HOUSTON - Unseeded Scott Davis pressed Eliot Teltscher's serves mercilessly to beat Teltscher 7-5, 6-4 in Saturday's semifinal singles match and advance to the finals in the $279,000 WCT Houston Shootout.

Davis, who upset top-seeded Jimmy Connors in Friday night's quarterfinals, broke Teltscher's service in the 11th game, then held his own for the victory.

"I played well, but it probably should have been easier," said Davis of Bardmoor, Fla. "I didn't concentrate as well as I would have liked when I got up. Maybe last night's match took a little out of me."

In the second set, Davis broke Teltscher in games one and five to take the st raight set win.

"It's always been a strategy against Eliot to take advantage of his second serve," Davis said.

Teltscher of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., said his poor serves made the difference in the match.

"I had served well all week, but not today," he said. "Scott really puts the pressure on your serve.

Davis will meet the winner of Saturday's evening semifinal match between Slobodan Zivojinovic and Derrick Rostagno in Sunday's championship. Davis, 24, is ranked 43rd in the world, and is 2-0 against Connors, having won their only other previous meeting, 6-3, 6-4, in Tokyo in October, 1983. Connors, who has 105 career singles titles, has not won an event since November, 1984.

In doubles play, Richard Acuna and Brad Pearce defeated Kim Warwick and Blaine Willenborg 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 to advance to the doubles finals. In the second set, Warwick-Willenborg fought off a match point with the game score 5-4 and tied the set 5-5, then took the tie breaker 7-3. Acuna-Pearce broke serve in game eight of the deciding set. Acuna served the match game, which was won in four straight points. The game was won at love.

Acuna-Pearce will face the winners of tonight's semifinal match between Paul Annacone and Gary Donnelly, the No. 2 seed team, and Chip Hooper and Mike Leach, the third-seeded team.

Anger bests Kriek in S. Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Defending champion Matt Anger of the United States beat South African-born American Johan Kriek 7-6, 7-6 Saturday night to gain a berth in the final of the $375,000 Altech South African Open tennis tournament against Israel's Amos Mansdorf.

Mansdorf defeated South Africa's Eddie Edwards 6-0, 7-5 in the other semifinal. Anger, unseeded despite his victory in the event last year, won both tiebreakers against Kriek by scores of 7-4 to advance to Sunday's title match. The women's final Saturday was an all-South African contest, with top-seeded Dinky van Rensberg beating Rene Mentz 6-3, 6-1.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

TENNIS; Shriver Just Misses In Navratilova Test
Peter Alfano
November 23, 1986
The New York Times

The match was a test of wills as well as friendship. Pam Shriver had every intention of showing Martina Navratilova that her makeover was not a cosmetic change - six easy ways to improve your game - but a new found resolve to find her rightful place among the best players in the world.

Navratilova had offered her doubles partner encouragement until yesterday, that is, when the partnership was temporarily dissolved in the semifinals of the Virginia Slims championships at Madison Square Garden.

What ensued was easily the most exciting match of the tournament between two emotionally charged players who play their best under the most trying circumstances. Navratilova paced as if the boundaries of the court were a cage, angrily swinging her racquet in the air from time to time, or tossing it in disgust into her chair during the breaks between games. On the other side of the net, Shriver grit her teeth and clenched her fists, puffing like a steam engine between points in an effort to relieve the tension.

''I thought I was going to win the match,'' Shriver said. ''I've never felt so positive before. For the first time in my career, I feel I am playing up to No. 1 in the world.''

A Familiar Story

The result, however, was a familiar story as Navratilova overcame a brilliant performance by Shriver to win, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, advancing to the singles final where she will play Steffi Graf of West Germany, who defeated Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia, 7-6, 3-6, 6-1.

The victory was Navratilova's 52d in succession and bettered her match record this year to 88-3. ''I thought the streak was over today,'' she said, somewhat subdued after the match. ''But if I had to lose to anyone, I'd want Pam to be the one.''

Despite their friendship and enormous success as doubles partners, however, Navratilova has never bestowed any gifts on Shriver when they face each other. The victory raised her career record against Shriver to 30-3, and she has won the last 20 times they have met.

Navratilova sensed that Shriver was especially motivated yesterday, but what got her going, she said, was the unshakable belief she would prevail because she is simply a better player. It is the arrogance of a champion and it may have been the difference this time.

Moment of Controversy

''I was saying to myself, 'you're faster, you have more shots, what's going on here,' '' Navratilova said.

The focus of the championships has been on the officiating and yesterday provided another controversial moment, initiated by Navratilova, at the expense of Shriver. It caused what Shriver called ''a problem'' between them, one that had not been forgotten when the match ended and they rested their heads on each other's shoulder in a fatigue and relief.

Shriver's net game and the new-found spring in her feet, which enables her to track down shots she once would watch helplessly, had put her up a break at the start of the third set.

Trailing by 3-1, and serving at deuce in the final set, Navratilova hit a half-volley that hit the net and crawled over. She thought she had lost the point and began to babble, as she put it. Shriver, coming in to scoop the shot on her forehand, said she was distracted, and netted the ball.

Shriver Appeal Rejected

She felt Navratilova had interfered with the point and asked the chair umpire, Judy Popkin, for a replay. She requested the same of the tournament referee, Lee Jackson. But her appeal was rejected. Navratilova held her serve, then broke Shriver in the sixth game after Shriver held a 40-0 lead.

''I felt bad about it,'' Navratilova said. ''I stopped talking in mid-sentence but it threw Pam off. She is the only one who knows if it bothered her but I think she thought about it the rest of the match.''

Shriver said the lost point deprived her of an opportunity to go up by two breaks, the kind of margin that one needs against Navratilova. ''But the shot shouldn't be dwelled on,'' Shriver said. ''First off, I should have made it, then I was up 40-love on my next serve. I was determined not to let it bug me.''

Navratilova would slam the door, however. She was broken five times, but broke Shriver seven, the last time coming in the final game of the match.

----Graf Has Her Doubts

Graf, who has won 17 matches in a row but has struggled this week, said, ''I haven't played well enough to give Martina a good match tomorrow. But maybe it will help because she will be expected to win.'' . . . Navratilova and Shriver won the doubles final, 7-6, 6-3, from Claudia Kohde-Kilsch and Sukova. . . . The attendance of 17,128 set a single session record for women's indoor tennis.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I love that kid! Again, for those who missed Steffi's early years, there is a reason why the media and a lot of fans gravitated to her at this stage. She didn't have the swaggering jock manner of Navratilova (and we note there are no laments that Navratilova's winning streak is "killing tennis") or the crybaby whining manner of the also-rans.

Lexington Herald-Leader
Monday, November 24, 1986
Associated Press

For Martina Navratilova, 1986 was a very good year.

She capped it yesterday with a 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over West Germany's Steffi Graf to capture the $1 million Virginia Slims Championships tennis tournament.

"The whole year's been great," Navratilova said. "I've won the Slims twice and Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and going to Czechoslovakia and winning there and just being there, and finding my dog when he got lost. That's probably the happiest I've been all year."

Her latest victory increased her consecutive match winning streak to 53 - the fourth-longest streak in history behind her own record of 74, Chris Evert Lloyd's 56 and another Navratilova streak of 54.

"This was 53 and I'll probably break Chris' record again, so I'll have the top two spots," she said. "I really didn't think I'd be able to do it again because it's hard. But I can only break my own record now, so there's really no pressure on me."

It was Navratilova's fourth straight title in the Madison Square Garden tournament, as she halted Graf's match-winning string at 17.

It was a rematch of the thrilling semifinal in the U.S. Open, in which Navratilova fought off three match points before beating Graf.

But yesterday, even though Graf was magnificent in defeat, Navratilova let her young opponent know who was No. 1. Not once did the winner lose her serve and Graf never reached break point against the 30-year-old Navratilova. Navratilova converted the only three break points of the match.

"When we played in the U.S. Open I was very close to Martina," Graf said. "Today she was a little bit better. It was hard to stay in the match.

"She just smacked it all over me," Graf said. "She really played a good match. She served very well. It was really a close first set, and maybe if I would have won it, it would have gotten closer." Following the match, Graf presented her conqueror with a bouquet of roses.

Said Navratilova: "Steffi played a little better at the Open and I played a little better today."

Navratilova needed all of the weapons in her arsenal to combat Graf's powerful forehand. And she did it by changing pace and spins, never giving Graf the same shot twice.

Navratilova had to hold on in the opening set as Graf breezed through her service games, with Navratilova never winning more than two points.

In the fifth game, Navratilova won three straight points to hold serve after being down 15-30. And in the 10th game, she fought through three deuces before pulling even at 5-5.

Two games later, the two moved into a tiebreaker.

Navratilova took a 3-0 lead before Graf won the next three points. Graf saved two set points before Navratilova took a 7-6 lead when Graf sailed a forehand long. Then, Navratilova closed out the first set with her third ace of the match.

For all practical purposes, the match was over. Navratilova was pumped up and, after fighting through three deuces again to hold serve to begin the second set, she broke Graf at love for a 2-0 lead.

It was the only break of the set. Navratilova got two more breaks in the third set as she ran off with the final four games of the match.

Navratilova had solved the young phenom, who has won eight tournaments in the past eight months. She did it by hitting kick serves on her second serves and by giving Graf low, soft, wide shots to her backhand.

Graf often sent the ball into the net, enough times to give Navratilova the 125th title of her career.

Navratilova, who teamed with Pam Shriver to win the doubles title Saturday, moved closer to the $12 million career earnings mark after getting $428,657 in winnings and bonus money in the tournament. Her singles victory was worth $125,000; Graf received $60,000.

Fleming scores upset

BERGEN, Norway - Unseeded Peter Fleming of the United States beat second-seeded Jan Gunnarsson of Sweden 6-4, 6-1 to win the $50,000 Bergen Open ATP tennis tournament.

Mansdorf beats Anger

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Unseeded Amos Mansdorf of Israel defeated defending champion Matt Anger of the United States 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 to win the $375,000 Altech South African Open Tennis Tournament.

Rosewall triumphs

MIAMI - Ken Rosewall defeated Mal Anderson 6-2, 6-1 to win the $40,000 Mutual Benefit Co. Grand Masters Tennis Tournament on Williams Island.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Peter Alfano
November 24, 1986
The New York Times

If the paper listing all her accomplishments were shredded, there would be enough scraps to give Martina Navratilova a ticker-tape parade. Victories are an obsession, records a means of insuring that people will never be able to talk about the best in women's tennis without mentioning her name. Navratilova's year ended on a winning note yesterday, and the closing credits might have read: To Be Continued.

She defeated Steffi Graf of West Germany, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2, winning the Virginia Slims championships for the fourth consecutive year. It was her seventh victory in a year-ending event, the championships having had other sponsors in the past. It was also the ninth consecutive time she has appeared in the final.

Streak Put on Hold

In one way, Navratilova is reluctant to see the year end. She needs the rest, she said, and will spend Christmas in Aspen, Colo., but it will put on hold for several weeks the winning streak that reached 53 consecutive matches yesterday, within range of the record 74 she won in 1984.

Navratilova finished with an 89-3 match record. She won 14 of 17 tournaments and earned $1,905,841. Her prize money yesterday alone was $428,657, including the bonus pool, doubles and singles winnings. Before reciting her achievements, one should always take a deep breath.

''I'm playing against tougher competition, and that's what makes it more gratifying,'' she said. ''I've had to play as good, if not better, than two years ago. After I won the 74, I didn't think I'd get to it again. You realize how long it is when you start over again.''

Navratilova equates her 74-match winning streak with Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, saying she believed it would never be equaled or surpassed. She has reached the point when thoughts of the current streak ending enter her mind in the midst of a tough match. ''But I can only break my own record and there is no pressure in that,'' she said.

Graf Uses Reliable Forehand

Graf gave every intention of providing more than a workout yesterday. Her game may still be relatively one-dimensional, relying on a topspin forehand, but that shot is so good it enabled the 17-year-old to move up to No. 3 in the world this year. Navratilova had hoped to neutralize that forehand with her assortment of shots, her court savvy and an accurate serve. She succeeded on all counts.

The crowd of 16,175 did not have to wait long for a turning point. Each player held serve fairly easily throughout the opening set, finally deciding matters in a tiebreaker. Navratilova held a 6-4 lead in the tiebreaker and was serving for the set when Graf made a rare approach, punching a forehand volley that Navratilova returned wide.

At 6-5, and holding a second set point, Navratilova tried to chip a backhand. It floated over the baseline. The score was tied, and Graf was serving for the advantage. That time, she smacked a forehand wide and faced her third set point.

Navratilova did not waste the chance, serving an ace to close out the set. Then she broke Graf for the first time in the second game of the second set, forcing three errors. When she won that set, too, the crowd sensed the third would be the last in this, the only three-of-five-sets match the women play.

''Once I was up by two sets, I felt comfortable,'' Navratilova said. ''I played a solid match, nothing spectacular, but no letdowns. This win was fantastic.''

At 30 years of age, the question is how long Navratilova can keep up with the standard she has set. ''People have a hang-up about 30,'' she said. ''To me, it's a number. I think 40 is young. Thirty doesn't bother me.''

There is no comparison, Navratilova said, to the player she was only two or three years ago. ''I would have beaten that Martina in straight sets,'' she said.

ANGER IS UPSET JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 23 (AP) -Unseeded Amos Mansdorf of Israel defeated Matt Anger, the defending champion from the United States, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, today to win the South African Open tennis tournament.

Mansdorf earned $43,000 - his biggest payday ever.

Mansdorf defeated the top-seeded player, Andres Gomez of Ecuador, in the quarterfinals, and beat Eddie Edwards of South Africa in straight sets in the semifinals.

ZIVOJINOVIC WINS HOUSTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) - Slobodan Zivojinovic capitalized on consecutive double faults by Scott Davis to post a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory today in the final of the W.C.T. Houston Shootout for his first Grand Prix title.

The Yugoslav seized control when Davis faltered in the sixth game of the third set. Trailing, 3-2, but even on serve, Davis led, 30-15, in the sixth game when he committed the consecutive double faults.

Zivojinovic increased his lead to 5-2 and 40-love, but it took 4 match points before he captured the first prize of $44,000.

''That one game was the turnaround,'' Davis said. ''I haven't double faulted twice in a row all week.''
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

An explanation about the flowers. Before Monica the Flower Girl, there was Steffi. (And we note she had the flowers ready...)

November 27, 1986
Sydney Morning Herald

NEW YORK, Wednesday: For the first time since its inception in December 1970 the Masters tennis championships will not have an American in the field.

Gene Scott, the tournament director, is hoping that fans will not use it as an excuse to stay at home when this year's Nabisco Masters begins at Madison Square Garden on December 3.

He might argue that although there are no Americans there are still a few "local heroes" in the event.

Ivan Lendl, of Czechoslovakia, for example, makes his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Yannick Noah, of France, lives in Manhattan, as does Mats Wilander's fiancee. Thus, Wilander, who recently returned from a two-month sabbatical, spends a considerable amount of time here, too.

"No Americans" really means the absence of Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, colourful personalities who are both naughty and nice for men's tennis. Naughty is how they sometimes behave on the court; nice is what tournament officials think of their ability as drawcards.

"McEnroe is a movie star creature," Scott said during the Masters' draw. "There is a cult demeanour to him. It's sad there will be no Americans, but in reality tennis is an international sport now."

Still, Madison Square Garden officials are wondering what kind of impact a non-American Masters will have on a tournament that has had declining attendance in recent years.

The Masters is returning to an eight-player, round-robin format to give fans the opportunity to see the best players more than once.

The field includes Lendl, the world's No1, Noah, Wilander and his countrymen Stefan Edberg and Joakim Nystrom; Boris Becker, of West Germany; Henri Leconte, of France, and Andres Gomez, of Ecuador. McEnroe and Connors did not qualify.

The tournament's round-robin format was abandoned for a straight elimination a few years ago because players were playing half-heartedly or purposely losing some matches that were meaningless.

The Men's International Professional Tennis Council decided the way to appeal to the players' pride was through their wallets. The incentive to win every match this year is $20,000 for each victory.

Winning semi-finalists receive $40,000 and the champion $100,000 more. An undefeated champion will earn $210,000.

The Masters begins on a Wednesday night - another departure - and ends with an 8 pm final on December 8. That suits the wishes of ESPN, which is televising the tournament, but it remains to be seen whether it will affect the live gate.

The Masters has been a fixture at the Garden since 1977, but there is talk of possibly rotating it among European cities, which was done in the early 1970s, when it was played in Japan, France, Spain, Sweden and Australia.

"Tennis is played everywhere so moving it around is a good argument," Scott said. "But also, we have to consider what is good for the tournament. New York is the media capital and the sponsorship contracts and television money is here."

Slobodan Zivojinovic, of Yugoslavia, made a last-minute telephone call to his agent's office before the start of a tournament in Houston in the hope of gaining a wild-card berth in the singles draw. He was already entered in the doubles.

The call was made half an hour before the draw, and when Zivojinovic arrived in Houston a week ago he learnt that he had been granted his wish because of several late withdrawals.

On Sunday Zivojinovic beat Scott Davis in the final for his first tournament victory. He is probably wondering whether the Masters accepts wild cards.

After winning the Virginia Slims championships, also on Sunday, Martina Navratilova said it had been a memorable year.

She counted her US Open final win against Steffi Graf, her loss to Chris Evert Lloyd in the final of the French Open and her return to her native Czechoslovakia as among the highlights.

But her happiest moment, she said, was finding her dog, Yoney, when he was lost.

"That was probably the happiest I was all year," she said.

A few months ago Graf appeared on a West German television game show and was a loser. She had to think of her own penalty and she decided she would give a bouquet of flowers to the next player to defeat her in a tournament.

Seventeen consecutive victories later Graf lost to Navratilova in the championships final. During the awards ceremony she presented a surprised Navratilova with a victory bouquet.

"That was nice," Navratilova said. "She didn't have to do that in public."
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Tennis: Slims final brings a fat purse for the world champion
The Times
London, England
Nov. 25, 1986

Martina Navratilova goes into a six-week winter recess following her 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Steffi Graf in the final of the Virginia Slims championships knowing that she is pounds 1.3million richer than one year ago.

'It's definitely been a year to remember,' said the 30-year-old American after being crowned official world champion for the fourth successive year. 'It's been great, winning the Slims championships twice in one year, winning Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year.

'There have been some memorable matches - one that I lost against Chris Lloyd in the French and one against Steffi at the Open that I won. Of course, going to Czechoslovakia and winning there and just being there, that was a very emotional time.'

But the highlight had nothing to do with tennis. She was playing a tournament in Los Angeles in August when one of her dogs - she often travels with five, including a miniature called KD (Killer Dog) - went missing. Distressed, Miss Navratilova made appeals on TV and in newspapers for its return, and even toured the streets calling for him.

'Finding him again was probably the happiest I'd been all year,' she admitted.

Miss Navratilova believes she has been playing better this year than ever before. 'I think I have to play better because everybody else is playing a lot better. It's difficult to tell maybe in any given match, but overall this streak of 53 straight wins has been more difficult than anything I've done before. Players are tougher to beat now.'

The break she will now take is a time for relaxation, but for Miss Navratilova that does not mean sitting in front of a television or reading a book. 'I'll be going to Aspen, Colorado, and doing a lot of skiing,' she announced.

For her defeated opponent, the next two months will present a desperately needed opportunity to recharge the batteries after an eight month period that has seen her claim eight tournament titles. During that time Miss Graf has defeated ever top name in tennis, including Miss Navratilova in Berlin and Chris Lloyd in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Just last month she won the Pretty Polly Classic in Brighton by beating Catarina Lindqvist.

But her success has taken its toll. Throughout the week in New York 17-year-old Miss Graf looked a pale reflection of her usual self and she admitted after her defeat that she was tired.

'It's been a long season. Playing singles and doubles (in which she has formed a successful partnership with Gabriela Sabatini) and winning so many matches is difficult. I don't feel I've played too many tournaments, but I haven't had time to work on my game because I've been playing so much.'

Now she plans to play an exhibition with Hana Mandlikova, practise a little with her coach Pavil Slozil and then take two weeks off without picking up a racket.

'That two weeks will be hard, I'll be getting bored,' she grinned. 'I will also do some conditioning and play some basketball or a little soccer or hockey just for fun.'

VIRGINIA SLIMS CHAMPIONSHIP: Singles final: M Navratilova (US) bt S Graf (WG), 7-6, 6-3, 6-2.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Martina isn't ready to abdicate, but the next time they play, Steffi will be the one smacking it all over Martina.

The Record
New Jersey
Monday, November 24, 1986
Sherry Ross

Some day, Steffi Graf will know what it is like to be Martina Navratilova.

She will know that every ponytailed teen-age girl with a two-fisted backhand is lurking in ambush. She will know how it feels to be the champion everyone is waiting to see crumble. She may even know that burning ambition that keeps Navratilova clenching her fists and gritting her teeth to punctuate every important point, even after years at the top.

Graf will know all that, if Navratilova ever lets her reach the summit of women's tennis.

Navratilova, 30, crushed her 17-year-old challenger in three sets, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-2, yesterday in the best-of-five Virginia Slims Championships final at Madison Square Garden. Navratilova's victory capped an outstanding 1986 season in which she won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and more than $1.9 million in prize money.

Navratilova was so solid in winning her fourth consecutive Virginia Slims Championship that Graf never had a break point against her.

"I'm just thrilled," Navratilova said. "The last three weeks have been very tough. The tournaments were back to back to back [she won Slims events in New England and New Orleans before New York], and on a fast surface where anything can happen.

"I very much wanted to finish on a high note," she said. "When I go down the slopes [during one of her skiing trips], I don't want to be thinking about a match I lost. "

Navratilova can barely remember the last match she lost. For the record, it was in May at the French Open 53 matches ago. Navratilova's consecutive match streak is third on the all-time list behind her own record of 74 and Chris Evert Lloyd's 55.

Yesterday's match between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds (Lloyd, No. 2 in the computer rankings, was sidelined by a knee injury, but watched from courtside) was supposed to provide thrills and carpet burns, but it turned into a clinic by Navratilova.

Even the first set, which Navratilova won in a tie-breaker (8-6), hardly was reminiscent of their spine-tingling, third-set 10-8 tie-breaker in September at Flushing Meadow.

There was, however, a memorable point. In the 12th game of the first set, Navratilova ran down one deep Graf shot, returning an almost impossible lob with her back to the net, and a mesmerized Graf drove the shot out. Navratilova rode that momentum into the tie-breaker, and broke Graf in the second game of the second set.

Graf made some powerful shots, but Navratilova's serve was tough, especially to Graf's backhand. The blonde teen-ager simply could not find her rhythm against the world's top player.

"After the second set, I could relax," Navratilova said. "If she had won the first set of the match, I think we'd still be out there. "

Navratilova shows no sign of slowing. In fact, it was the youngster, Graf, who was tiring at the end of the match.

"I'll be happy to have a rest now," said Graf, who will return to her native West Germany and take a break from competitive tennis until January. "I was more tired in my head. I wasn't always doing the right tactics. I'm looking forward to 1987. I will go into next year with more energy."

Navratilova will take a six-week sabbatical, which will include plenty of skiing in Aspen, Colo., before defending her No. 1 ranking in 1987. Graf, ranked third in the world, is expected to be hot on her heels.

Navratilova becomes exasperated with repeated questions about her age, saying some reporters treat her as if she were about to be declared a national historic monument instead of an athlete in her prime.

"People have such a hangup about 30," Navratilova said. "To me, 40 is young. Chris [Evert Lloyd] played some of her best tennis after she turned 30. It's just numbers, and I've never been scared of them. "

The numbers are on her side. Her career earnings ($11.7 million, more than any tennis player of either sex), the Grand Slam titles (15 singles and counting), the consecutive-match streaks . . . they all add up to one thing Navratilova is No. 1 for the fifth straight year.

"I think about it more when I'm working out than when I'm actually on the court," Navratilova said of her ranking. "I keep it as motivation when I have to do those weights or wind sprints. It's what keeps me going."
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

And once again, the part-time tennis pundits prove their ignorance. Steffi did not dream of the day Navratilova was gone; Steffi dreamed of beating Navratilova at her best. Unlike so many of the other players with aspirations to the throne, she really would work on her game to bring it up to the necessary level. And by early March 1987, the tennis world would tremble.

Martina wins 53rd straight to finish year
New York Daily News
Monday, November 24, 1986

NEW YORK - For one set, it looked very much like the U.S. Open. For two sets, it looked like any other women's tennis match starring Martina Navratilova. It looked routine.

The tennis dynasty rolled on Sunday. Navratilova dispatched 17-year-old Steffi Graf, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden. The 1986 women's tennis season reached a predictable finish, with Navratilova making still another prodigious deposit to her already bulging bank account.

For winning the singles' title, Navratilova earned $125,000. Throw in the doubles championship she won with Pam Shriver, plus assorted bonuses, and her weekly take totalled $428,657. That breaks down to $85,731-a-day. With that kind of salary, who needs night differential?

With these kinds of results, who needs to play the tournaments? Navratilova's match streak now stands at 53. She hasn't lost since the final of the French Open in early June. She ran through the field here, losing only one set, that to Shriver in Saturday's semifinals.

Based on their three-set semifinal at the Open last September, won by Navratilova in a 10-8, third-set tiebreaker, Sunday was supposed to Round II of women's tennis' Next Great Rivalry. Fans hoped it would be. Navratilova thought it would be. Actually, what she thought was that it wouldn't be straight sets.

"I didn't think I'd win three straight," she said. "But I also didn't think that I'd never have a break point against my serve."

The rout just came down to that. Navratilova had too much pace, too much spin and too much placement on her serves. Graf spent most of her receiving time being overpowered or guessing wrong.

"She just smacked it all over me," Graf said.

In only two Navratilova service games - the 10th game of the first set and the first game of the second set - did Graf even get to deuce.

"If I didn't win the first set," Navratilova said, "we might still be out there."

Graf sagged, and was broken at love in the second game of the second set. Navratilova pumped her fist. The rest of the match was just the queen of women's tennis buckling the seat belt on her throne.

What now? A tired Graf, winner of eight tournaments this year, said she was going home. "To rest," she said. "To work on my serve, my backhand, my net game." To dream about the day when Navratilova is gone.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

November 24, 1986
The New York Times

The paradox surrounding Steffi Graf's year was that the better she played, the less opponents feared her. She began 1986 with modest goals, hoping to win her first tournament and break into the top-10 ranking. She ended it yesterday, No. 3 in the world and an eight-time winner, making a shambles of her own timetable.

''A year ago,'' Graf said, ''opponents were scared of me because I was young and had nothing to lose. Now, they play as if they have nothing to lose. They are not scared.''

Losing to Martina Navratilova in yesterday's final of the Virginia Slims championships did not diminish Graf's accomplishments this year at the age of 17. She defeated Navratilova and Chris Evert Lloyd for the first time, which she said lifted her confidence, immeasurably.

''It was a difficult thing to do and that made it an unbelievable season,'' she said. ''This year, I wanted to just improve my serve and backhand, but now, I have no time to improve. I don't have the life I had two years ago and it is very important not to think about what people expect of me.''

It is a life, though, she said she would not trade. She will return to West Germany, play an exhibition match or two, perhaps also in the German championships, then put down her racquet until February. She will stay in shape by playing basketball and she is also planning a ski vacation.

'I Get Crazy'

''My father makes sure I do not play too much tennis,'' Graf said. ''It's tough keeping my hands off a racquet. During my time off, there will be three and a half hours every day when I will have nothing to do. After a week, I get crazy.'' The emergence of Graf coincided with Boris Becker's rise to prominence on the men's tour. They were child prodigies, the best hopes of the West German Federation. They have succeeded in making tennis a national craze, although Becker's two Wimbledon championships has earned him more attention.

''When Boris came along, I had some quiet,'' Graf said. ''There was no pressure.''

Pressure Will Mount

Now, the pressure will mount. Graf has the potential to be No. 1 someday, but her most difficult task next year will be trying to equal this year's harvest. She is a baseliner who relies on a topspin forehand that many of the women say is the best on the tour. But it is also a Linus blanket, which can impede the development of her overall game. One of the things she will work on during the holiday season, is coming to the net.

''I can play the net,'' Graf said. ''The trouble is getting there.'' She has more than enough time, however. When Navratilova was asked how much longer she can continue to dominate the tour, she said: ''It depends on how much better Steffi gets.''
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

There are the hints of both that "metallic streak" and amiable playfulness that Steffi and Maureen Connolly were said to share.

Tennis: When winning is a family affair
The Times
London, England
Wednesday, December 17, 1986

She has been called, in recent months of universal acclaim, the Woman Borg. The girl who will topple Martina Navratilova.

In her first tournament, for under-8s in Munich, an umpire called a point in favour of her opponent on a shot that was blatantly out. She cried in disbelief, and the tournament organizer told her father she would never be a player.

That was the last time Steffi Graf cried on court, though she has shed tears a few times after a match. 'Crying is normal and spontaneous, it is healing,' Peter Graf, her father says. He is also her coach. It is a parent-child relationship in competitive sport as unique, and at the present stage successful, as has been the father-son Coe partnership.

As with the Coes, the parent has been criticized for driving the child too severely, yet Steffi, like Sebastian, is emphatic that the intensity of the partnership is at her behest, under her direction and control. 'I need him, he's most important to me, but he wouldn't be so close if I didn't want it,' she says.

When she lost the Virginia Slims final to Navratilova recently, her eye tended to seek him out in the crowd, where he tries to sit anonymously. 'I don't need advice or coaching,' she says, 'just to know that he is there. It makes me feel comfortable, especially at the big meetings.'

Some would say that the inherent strains in such a relationship when she is 17 - reflecting, possibly, an insecurity in the world outside tennis - will magnify as she matures, mentally and emotionally, over the next few years.

Yet to listen to the two of them talking, off duty so to speak, in the family home alongside the tennis and bowling club where all the winter practice takes place, is to believe the relationship is balanced and relaxed. The father seems protective rather than proprietorial. 'There are people who are jealous, who disapprove because I am father-coach-manager,' Peter Graf says. 'Yet I know what is right for her, I know her mentality and character.'

Earlier this year, Peter employed Pavel Slozil, the former Czechoslovak Davis Cup player, as full-time practice partner for his daughter. The intention is to modify her fundamental baseline game to include a more flexible, all-court serve-and-volley style which is imperative if she is to displace the seemingly impregnable Navratilova. Though she beat Navratilova in the German Open and lost a thrilling semi-final in the US Open after having three match points, she lost the Slims final in three straight sets.

Peter, an outstanding former club player, had intended to retreat but Steffi will not let him go. The day I called on her at Bruhl, outside Heidelberg, she was serving, again and again, from a bucket of 50 balls at Slozil, and from mid-court volleying his returns to the baseline corners. Formidable stuff. Yet she is, allegedly, a difficult person in training.

'I have to coach the coach,' Peter says with a smile. 'Pavel is still learning that Steffi is reluctant to talk during practice, that she just wants to concentrate and slam away the winners as she does in a match. He has to discover how to handle her. '

There is, indeed, a remarkable difference in her manner on and off court. Her focus, when playing, is absolute. I had arrived at Bruhl early and when she came off court she said, almost abruptly: 'Yes, we are meeting. At five.'

An hour later, showered and relaxed, she was a slightly coy, smiling, relaxed schoolgirl, not the phenomenon who is the fourth prize money winner of the year ($455,000) third in the rankings and second in the Slims points table. Her ambition this year had been to win one tournment. She won eight.

When she was 10, she told the chief national coach, who had said she was too unemotional: 'Either I play or I laugh.' It is the self-generating discipline of which champions are made. 'I cannot smile when I play,' she says. 'The fun for me is in ending the point.' When she wants a laugh, she practices left-handed.

Her wish is not to be rich (which, relatively, she already is), or famous, but to master the game, to play it beautifully. Perfectly. 'I want to be a baseliner who can come to the net when it's necessary. To be able to do what I want on the court, what I feel like.'

Her personality is expressed through her racket, though she is not the impersonal, inscrutable machine that Borg was. She knows she has not a waiting mentality, that the match has to be played her way. That is why the silent winter weeks will be spent volleying against Slozil.

'I have to work at serve-and-volley. I don't really know as yet where to go. Against other volleyers, in the past, they have known I won't come in. If I did, I put more pressure on myself.' Now, she is strengthening the serve: slower swing, more snap. Taking risks. Navratilova does not hit passing shots that well, she knows.

Will she, like Borg, Austin, Jaeger, become prematurely burned out? No, her father says emphatically, because she wants to win points in six or seven strokes, not 30 or 40. And she does not have the spinal strain of a two-handed backhand. The intention is to keep the quality high and the tournaments low.

So far as it is possible to be normal in contemporary professional sport, Steffi seems pretty normal. Her parents, her younger brother Michael's humour, her two dogs: such conventional family surroundings should help.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Returning to 1994, this time the Australian Open. Just as in late 1986 and early 1987, Steffi had spent the off season working on her game and fitness. Monica Seles had been expected to return to the tour at the Australian Open, but backed off with the explanation that she wasn't ready to play. The media response was interesting. Some readily devalued Steffi's titles and, by extension, the rest of the players. Others were questioning Seles' inability to "get back on the horse," though stopping just short of questioning Monica's reputed "mental toughness." By the end of the tournament, there would be some zingers in the Aussie press.

Tennis: Graf's hegemony set for a grand reward: Germany's perfectionist holds all the aces at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday
The Independent
London, England
Saturday, January 15, 1994
JOHN ROBERTS in Melbourne

SOME Grand Slams are grander than others, as Steffi Graf may find if she succeeds in becoming the first woman to win the four major singles championships in sequence for a second time with a triumph at the Australian Open, which starts here on Monday.

There are two reasons in particular why Graf, being a perfectionist, could feel less than comfortable on a pedestal alongside the one occupied by Rod Laver, who accomplished the Grand Slam in 1962 as an amateur and again in 1969 as a professional.

Firstly, Laver's two sweeps of the Australian, French, Wimbledon and United States championships were achieved in the traditional manner, within a calendar year. Graf, whose 1988 Grand Slam met this condition, is currently on target for a chronological, or modern, Grand Slam. Her unbeaten run in the majors began at the French Open last June after she had lost to Monica Seles in the Australian final in January.

Secondly, Graf's court has been a greyer place since a knife attack by a German specator, Gunther Parche, put Seles out of the game more than eight months ago. Graf's subsequent achievements have been devalued, or at least have been accompanied by asterisks noting her chief rival's absence.

This is likely to happen again if Graf justifies her top seeding during the next fortnight while Seles continues her rehabilitation on the practice courts of Florida.

The traditional Grand Slam dates back to the American Donald Budge's success in 1938, which has been emulated by one other man, Laver, and three women, Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Graf.

Though Martina Navratilova has been unable to cap her glorious career with a traditional Grand Slam, she is the only player to date to have accomplished the modern version, completed at the French Open in 1984. For this, Navratilova was rewarded with a dollars 1m bonus from the International Tennis Federation, who had offered the sum for a Grand Slam in order to induce more of the leading players to compete at the Australian Open, which was held then at the end of the year.

Navratilova went on to annex the Wimbledon and United States titles, bringing her winning sequence to six, before her bid for a traditional Grand Slam was terminated by Helena Sukova in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The defeat also brought to a close Navratilova's modern professional record of 74 matches won in succession.

'Some purists argued that a true Grand Slam meant winning the French, Wimbledon, US Open and Australian in the same calendar year,' Navratilova wrote in her autobiography, Being Myself. She pointed out that in 1977 the Australians 'changed the emphasis somewhat' by switching the date of their championships to 'a long December haul to Down Under for the traditional Grand Slam'.

Connolly and Court won the four majors when the season began in Australia, and this was also the case when Graf achieved the Grand Slam in a calender year in 1988, the tournament having reverted to January in 1987. Navratilova's name was shamefully omitted from the brief list of Grand Slammers recited during the presentation to Graf at the US Open.

After Graf left New York's Flushing Meadow she almost immediately became the Olympic singles champion in Seoul, turning her triumphs into a 'Golden Grand Slam'. It was widely predicted that she would dominate the game for as long as she wished to continue playing.

Seles, 14 years old at the time, had left her home in Novi Sad, in what was then Yugoslavia, and was based at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Sizing up the opposition from a height of 5ft 4in, she had already slogged and grunted to a world ranking of No 84. She quickly developed to challenge and eventually supplant Graf as the No 1.

Graf and Seles have monopolised the women's singles title at the Australian Open since 1988, when the tournament moved from the grass courts of Kooyong, in the Melbourne suburbs, to the rubberised concrete courts of Flinders Park, within walking distance of the city centre. Three triumphs by Graf were followed by three by Seles, though illness caused the German to withdraw from the event in 1992.

Their first meeting at Flinders Park was in last year's final, a stirring contest of heavy-hitting baseline determination. Seles, who appeared to be losing confidence towards the end of the opening set, lasted the pace better and won, 4-6 6-3 6-2. It was her eighth Grand Slam title, Wimbledon so far having eluded her.

During the presentations Seles's stamina was likened to the legendary Australian racehorse, Phar Lap. Since the stabbing in Hamburg in April, Graf has been an odds-on favourite, winning the French, Wimbledon and United States championships to bring her haul of Grand Slam titles to 14. That said, she has not always displayed a keen sense of motivation.

In consecutive finals she was aided by the shortcomings of opponents. The American Mary Joe Fernandez was unable to capitalise on a winning position at the French Open in June, and a month later came Jana Novotna's unforgettable capitulation at Wimbledon.

A bone splinter in a foot, requiring surgery in October, contributed to Graf's lack of verve, and a back strain made the end of the 1993 season more than welcome. But, above all, she missed the stimulus of Seles's competitive edge.

The 24-year-old Graf has achieved every goal that tennis can offer, and official prize-money of nearly dollars 13m (pounds 6.16m) represents a fraction of her fortune from sponsorships and endorsements. Regaining the No 1 position, she said, brought her none of the excitement she experienced when first reaching the summit in August 1987, at the start of a record reign of 186 consecutive weeks. How could it, when an obsessive with a knife had restored her above Seles?

A similar reservation could be made with regard to the beckoning Grand Slam II. Six years ago, en route to Grand Slam I, Graf had the satisfaction of defeating the old firm, Chris Evert, in the Australian final, and Martina Navratilova, for the Wimbledon title. Success without Seles, on the other hand, has been rather muted.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

A form guide to the titles
Gerard Wright
January 16, 1994


THE FAVORITE: Not quite a cakewalk, but less than a flat-out sprint for Steffi Graf, who has resumed her place at No.1 as though the Monica Seles reign had never happened. She prepared herself for this by accepting $US500,000 to play some exhibition matches in Hong Kong, and then had centre court both opened and closed for her first practice sessions here.

For the record, this will be her 15th Grand Slam victory and her first here in four years. Sorry to make it sound so straightforward, but it's hard to see this tournament going any other way.

On the face of it, her main obstacle appears to be Mary Joe Fernandez, a NSW finalist today, whom she is likely to meet in a quarter-final.

It seems sadly appropriate that Graf should be considering a boycott of the Hamburg tournament where Monica Seles was stabbed just under nine months ago. That assault has turned women's tennis into a one-horse race.

THE DRAW: Graf's most significant dangers lie in the other half of the draw, with Jana Novotna seeded to meet Mary Pierce in the quarters.

Either one would be a worthy finalist, although Pierce was forced to pull out of Graf's Hong Kong exhibition with a stomach upset.

Anke Huber and Conchita Martinez contend for the right to meet Steffi in the semi. Martinez faces the more difficult route there, with a first-round match against 20th-ranked Natalia Zvereva, a quarter-finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open last year.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, a flower girl rather than a bridesmaid at last year's Slams, with three semi-final appearances, should be untroubled in going that far again before she runs into Pierce - who meets Sabatini in the third round - or Novotna. That is looking like the match of the tournament.

THE AUSTRALIANS: Despite her victory over Graf in last year's Federation Cup, Nicole Provis would not have received notification of her draw with any great joy. Her first-round clash with 87th-ranked Brit Clay Wood is followed by a return bout with Graf in the second.

Rachel McQuillan, who lost in the semi-finals in Hobart at the weekend, meets 108th-ranked Austrian Petra Ritter.

Seven of the remaining eight Australian women in the draw are wild- cards, as telling an indication as any of how far they have fallen off the international pace. The eighth, Michelle Jaggard-Lai, a first-round loser in Sydney last week, meets Japan's Naoko Sawamatsu, who lost to Amanda Coetzer in the short-lived Melbourne Women's Open last year.

THE WILDCARDS: The unknown in this equation is 17-year-old Californian Lindsay Davenport, ranked 19th, who announced her arrival in Australia with a victory in Brisbane. She strikes the ball with the force and enthusiasm of a young Jennifer Capriati.

Novotna has become better known, if not notorious, for her fade-out in the third set at Wimbledon last year when she appeared to have Graf at her mercy. Her attacking game is suited to this surface, as was shown when she made the final here in 1991.


THE FAVORITE: Unquestionably Pete Sampras, although Michael Stich's late-season and Davis Cup final form were the best indication yet of what he is truly capable of doing. After the hiccup in the Middle East, where he lost to 212th-ranked Karim Alami in the first match of the year, the world No.1 has endured a bumpy ride in Sydney, suggesting that he is still some way off his peak.

The indications are that the lessons of other years have been learnt, with the Sampras touring party now including a masseur to deal with his fallible pins, which have been prone to give out towards the business end at Grand Slam tournaments.

THE DRAW: A minefield for defending champion Jim Courier, with Goran Ivanisevic or Marc Rosset drawn to meet him in a quarter-final. A replay of yesterday's NSW Open final against Ivan Lendl in the fourth round is possible for Sampras, the top seed, with 10th seeded Magnus Gustafsson, Kiwi Brett Steven and Mikael Pernfors most likely to vie for the quarter-final berth against Sampras.

Second seed Michael Stich faces the dangerous MaliVai Washington in the first round, with Petr Korda, his Grand Slam Cup conqueror, awaiting him in the quarters. His semi-final opponent looks to be Stefan Edberg, now armed with a heavier first serve and the beneficiary of the late withdrawal of sixth-ranked Andrei Medvedev.

That left Thomas Muster as the only top-10 player in his quarter of the fixture.

LONG SHOTS: Brett Steven wore the black hat when he accounted for Richard Fromberg, the last Australian in the tournament, in the fourth round last year. The seed in his section of the draw is Magnus Gustafsson, a Swedish clay-court specialist whose recent Australian Open form inspires little confidence.

Despite ordinary late-season form and a surprise loss to Fromberg in the Davis Cup final, Marc Goellner was one of the big improvers of 1993. He is drawn to meet Marc Rosset in the third round. With the German standing at 195centimetres and Rosset, the Swiss Alp, at 201, that looks more like a centre-bounce contest at the MCG than a tennis match.

Despite his lowest ranking since 1979, Ivan Lendl is not ready to be written off. If Sampras is feeling fallible on quarter-final day, Lendl is the last player he would want to face.

THE AUSTRALIANS: For four of them, the draw could scarcely be worse.

Jason Stoltenberg is drawn to meet Goran Ivanisevic in the second round, Mark Woodforde is likely to face Michael Stich in the second round if he gets past 40th-ranked Russian Andrei Cherkasov in the first. The other Russian Andrei, the 27th-ranked Chesnokov, meets Jamie Morgan in the first round.

Wildcard recipient Joshua Eagle's look at the big time is likely to be brief but dazzling - he meets world No.1 Sampras, probably on centre court. Todd Woodbridge and Pat Rafter have been more kindly dealt with - both play qualifiers, while a path to the fourth round and possibly a quarter-final awaits Wally Masur if he can overcome the unpredictable 12th seed, Russian Alexander Volkov, in the first round. Among the obstacles along the way would be Richard Fromberg, who would meet his Davis Cup teammate in the second round if he accounted for Patrick McEnroe.
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post #3404 of 6247 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2014, 05:51 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

January 17, 1994
Sydney Morning Herald

The bodies are fitter than ever before, the racquets are more powerful, the game faster and more athletic, the sport better administered and promoted

Yet professional women's tennis is fast approaching a crisis.

The Australian Open gets underway at Melbourne's National Tennis Centre today and, before a ball is hit, world No 1 Steffi Graf is a virtually unbackable certainty to win the women's singles title.

Graf, in the absence of Monica Seles, is a class above the rest. Last year, she lost only six matches and reached the semi-finals or better in every tournament she played.

Below Graf are the top 10 supporting cast: Gabriela Sabatini and Jana Novotna, who are yet to fulfill their early promise, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who continues to struggle to break through, and the close-to-retiring Martina Navratilova, who, as usual, is not competing in Melbourne.

Barring sudden injury or illness, all top-seeded players will reach the Ford Australian Open quarter-finals and are expected to win easily against lower-ranked players in the early rounds.

The depth of women's tennis may have improved over the years but too many early-round matches provide a mismatch between the top 10 to 15 players and their opponents, with predictable results.

A more worrying trend is occurring among the leading players. There are no great rivalries developing. Graf, winner of more than $4 million last year and marching on towards greater riches, is talking of retirement because she has done it all.

She could well be bored, with no player - like Seles - able to trouble her consistently.

Seles herself is delaying her comeback from last year's stabbing incident. Will she return at all?

The same could be asked of teenage star Jennifer Capriati, who is on a "burn-out" holiday at the age of 17.

Pam Shriver, president of the WTA Tour Players Association, said at the NSW Open last week that she hoped this would be a better year than 1993, which she described as "difficult".

It was a year when Tour sponsor Kraft General Foods withdrew its support, leading players took long breaks from the game for varying reasons and poor television ratings - for men's and women's tennis - were a trend throughout the world.

This year, the WTA Tour will offer more than $50 million in prize money, which is, if anything, a windfall for the players. Meanwhile, a sponsor for the WTA Tour must be found and greater interest in the sport must be rekindled among the players and spectators alike.

It will be 24-year-old Graf who begins proceedings on centre court today, with her opening match against plugging American Kimberley Po.

Graf is shooting for her fourth Australian championship and her first since 1990. If she achieves her goal, she will also have snared a "non-calendar year" grand slam for good measure, having won last year's French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles.

The hard-hitting German was beaten in the Australian final last year by the fearless Seles. But with Seles sequestered at her home in Sarasota, Florida, still unable - or unwilling - to pinpoint a date for her return to the circuit, Graf has the championship at her feet.

Perhaps the only women capable of upsetting Graf are Spaniards Sanchez-Vicario (the world No 2) and Conchita Martinez (No 4), both hungry for grand-slam success, and Novotna (No 6), who genuinely has the talent and game to win on the NTC's Rebound Ace surface.

The battle for the men's championship promises to be intriguing.

Two-time champion Jim Courier, fresh after a long break through November and December, is in shape to defend his title after a poor end to 1993, when he lost his last five matches.

The intensely focused baseliner demonstrated his enthusiasm about being back in Australia by defeating all-comers at the exhibition event in Adelaide last week.

Despite the slugging Courier's success in Melbourne, his liking of Rebound Ace and the summer heat, he has been seeded only third, behind fellow Floridian and world No 1 Pete Sampras and No 2 Michael Stich, of Germany.

Sampras, winner of the NSW Open at the weekend, is playing like a world No 1 and seems to have recovered from the hiccup in Qatar two weeks ago, when he was beaten by a player ranked 205.

His only concern will be his fitness lasting the two-week distance of the Open, having played five days straight in Sydney.

Stich has won only one grand-slam title, at Wimbledon in 1991, but he is regarded on the circuit as the player with the most potent all-round game.

Other chances include fourth-seeded Stefan Edberg, who has never won the Australian Open on Rebound Ace, although he twice won on grass at Kooyong.

Australia's highest-ranked player is Wally Masur at No 22, but he is not entirely at home on the surface and could struggle against dangerous Russian 12th seed Alexander Volkov in the first round.

Of the women, Nicole Provis has a shocking draw, as she is due to meet Graf in the second round, while in-form Rachel McQuillan has a reasonable draw.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Oh, she'll lose in the first round at one of the Slams...

Men may fall early, but you will not find an upset woman
Penny Crisp
January 17, 1994
The Age

Can you imagine, mused an aficionado last week, what would happen if Steffi Graf lost in the first round of the Australian Open? Quite frankly, no.

No, because that is not what happens in international women's tennis, and certainly not at a Grand Slam event. It staggers even the wildest of conjectures. It is akin to the development of an anti-neutron bomb: one that destroys the expensive infrastructure, but not the population. Who would bother to explore such a device? No, because the much-vaunted improvement in the depth of women's tennis is not easy to spot. Not counting the vagaries of Jennifer Capriati's troubled mind, there is little excitement before the quarter-finals. Everything progresses to seeded plan.

The bloke ranked 150th who will knock off one of the men's seeds - still scratchy after the holiday break, or maybe just five per cent below par on the day - does not exist in the women's draw. Only idle interest surrounds the semis: like, to whom will Graf have the pleasure of offering sympathy after the final? Of course the women players have improved over the years. Wide-bodied racquets and more attention to physical conditioning have made the world of difference to the athleticism and the competition.

But judge for yourselves: Tracy Austin, a dual US Open winner in the late '70s and early '80s, made a comeback last year after 10 seasons in the sporting wilderness.

Repeated neck and back problems had forced her to quit at her peak.

Her first comeback, in 1989, was ruined by a horrifying car accident that left her with a badly broken leg. Her autobiography, `Beyond Center Court', was published in 1992.

Austin, now 31, played in six singles events last season. Her win-loss record was 6-6. She played two doubles matches and lost both. But she did not need a wildcard entry into the Australian Open. Her ranking of 115 beat the automatic cut-off. Depth? Pshaw! But enough. Let us fast-forward straight to the quarter-finals, where the match-ups should read Graf versus Mary Joe Fernandez, Conchita Martinez-Anke Huber, Jana Novotna-Gabriela Sabatini and Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. Here is real food for thought.

Fernandez is particularly appealing, having twice been an Australian finalist and now believing in her ability to take one more step.

Should she upset Graf, the world would not end - although it might be touch and go.

Novotna, the Wimbledon warrior plagued by throat constrictions, is also an attractive bet. She has taken all the negatives from her weep on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder and wrung from them every possible positive. She also has a Graf-free zone until the final, where she also has appeared before.

Forget Sabatini, who has not won a tournament since May 1992. Do not plunge on Martinez, whose preparation has been deadly. The wildcard is Maleeva-Fragniere, who would like to retire on her best note. But in her way stands Sanchez Vicario, who is not seeded second by chance. Having been harassed to choose a winner, Ivan Lendl picked Steffi Graf, delighted to have pounced on the omission of ``men" from the query. ``I'm really going out on a limb there."

Can you imagine what would happen if Graf lost in the first round? Well, on second thought, yes. It would be a deeply fascinating women's Australian Open.
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