Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2 - Page 233 -
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Top seed Graf beats No. 8 Mandlikova - Navratilova sweeps Rinaldi in quarters
Houston Chronicle
Saturday, April 15, 1989
Associated Press

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. - Steffi Graf remained undefeated this year with a 6-3, 6-4 victory Friday over eighth-seeded Hana Mandlikova in the Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island Plantation.

"I'm not too happy," said Graf following the quarterfinal match. "I wasn't 100 percent with my game. I know I can play better."

Graf has not lost a serve in the tournament and has won 36 of 47 games in the three matches.

Martina Navratilova defeated Kathy Rinaldi 6-1, 6-4, but was also unhappy that after leading 4-0 in the second set she allowed Amelia Island's touring pro to win four consecutive games.

The defending champion had struggled when Rinaldi switched to softer, slower-paced ground strokes midway through the second set.

"At 4-0, she hit some good returns and played a good game at 4-2, but then she started hitting the soft ball," said Navratilova, who will play Gabriela Sabatini today.

Sabatini was trailing 3-2 in the third set against unseeded Angeliki Kanellopoulou, but she rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Graf will play sixth-seeded Arantxa Sanchez in the other semifinal game today.

Graf, Lendl will skip Italian

ROME - The Australian Open champions, Ivan Lendl and Steffi Graf, are skipping this year's Italian Open tennis championships.

But organizers announced a field that includes Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Kent Carlsson, Jimmy Connors, Yannick Noah and Miloslav Mecir among the men, and Martina Navratilova, defending champion Gabriela Sabatini, Chris Evert and Manuela Maleeva among the women.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

No. But as a consolation, she wouldn't lose the No. 2 ranking to Gaby.

Saturday, April 15, 1989
By JIM SARNI, Staff Writer

AMELIA ISLAND -- She is No. 2 and sinking. Martina Navratilova sees Steffi Graf racing away in the distance, while she watches Gabriela Sabatini gaining swiftly.

This weekend, Navratilova is caught in the middle. She faces No. 3 Sabatini in today's semifinals of the Bausch & Lomb Championships (ESPN, 2:30 p.m.) -- a victory away from a probable shot at No. 1 Graf Sunday.

Navratilova has not played Graf since Wimbledon.

They didn't meet at the U.S. Open, or the Australian Open, or last week's Family Circle Cup, because Navratilova lost along the way.

The showdown lurks again.

''I'm more comfortable than I was last week on clay,'' said Navratilova, after she defeated Kathy Rinaldi, Amelia Island's touring pro, 6-1, 6-4.

''This court is better than Hilton Head. I'm happy with everything but my serve.''

Navratilova led 4-0 in the second set, but then Rinaldi caught her.

''I got a little too passive, but I played better tennis when I had to.''

Navratilova has won two tournaments in 1988 -- Sydney and Pan Pacific -- while losing three times: to Helena Sukova (Australian Open), Larisa Savchenko (Oakland) and Natalia Zvereva (Hilton Head).

''I know that when I play well, I can beat anyone,'' said Navratilova, who skipped the Virginia Slims of Florida and Lipton because her knees can't take the hardcourts.

''I'm playing well enough to beat anybody at my best. I just haven't produced my best that often.''

Navratilova, the defending champion, beat Sabatini last year, after the Argentine surprised Graf in the semifinals.

This time, Sabatini is in Navratilova's half of the draw. Fresh off her Lipton championship, but a little uncertain on clay for the first time this year.

Friday, Sabatini had more problems beating Angeliki Kanellopoulou than she did saying her name.

''If I played well, it should have been two sets,'' said Sabatini, who took three -- 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

''I started to play her game and I was stuck. But I just couldn't lose that match.''

Kanellopoulou, Greece's best player, who keeps an American base in Boca Raton, led 3-2 in the final set.

''If I was more lucky, I could have won the match,'' Kanellopoulou said. ''I believed I could win, not just make a good score. She sliced to my forehand at the end, and that disturbed me a little bit.''

Navratilova is 10-2 against Sabatini, including all three matches in 1988. Navratilova beat Sabatini 6-0, 6-2 in last year's final.

''I'm fit, I can retrieve the ball all day long,'' Navratilova said. ''But I can't hang back too much. I have to force the action when I should.

''That's why clay is an ambivalent surface for me. I have to find a happy balance.''

Graf likes Navratilova. ''She has given Sabatini trouble in their last matches.''

Graf ran the latest Steffi Streak to 30 matches with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Hana Mandlikova Friday. It was Graf's toughest match of the tournament, against someone who used to be one of the toughest players in the world.

Mandlikova, the eighth seed, is fighting her way back after a lost season of injuries.

''Hana is hitting the ball well and serving well,'' Graf said. ''She needs a couple more tournaments.

''My concentration wasn't 100 percent. I know I can play much better. Now the tournament really starts. In the early rounds, you know you can't lose.''

''I wasn't disappointed,'' Mandlikova said. ''If I play well, I can win a tournament.''

Graf faces Arantxa Sanchez, the wild card in today's star-studded semifinals. Sanchez, the sixth seed, topped Judith Weisner 6-4, 7-5 in the final quarterfinal Friday night.

Graf beat Sanchez 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals last week in Hilton Head.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Originally Posted by Ms. Anthropic View Post
For those that wondered why Steffi and Boris were annoyed with war metaphors and World War II comparisons, here is a prime example.
Did they ever say it (they were bothered by that), publicly I mean?
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post #3484 of 6247 (permalink) Old Apr 19th, 2014, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by djul14 View Post
Did they ever say it (they were bothered by that), publicly I mean?
Maybe not "bothered," but Boris initially thought the nickname "Boom Boom" was too warlike (I'm sure there are more, but I am not a Becker expert). And there are a handful of "But nobody is getting hurt!" type of quotes from young Steffi when the interviewers used the "You really killed/mauled/blitzed/annihilated her today!" line.

The one that sticks with me the most is from after the 1999 Wimbledon final when somebody asked her if she was "tired of the wars, the battles" and the first part of her answer was "I never thought I fought a war." Maybe I misjudge it, but that reply just seems so quiet but heavy (the literary iceberg theory again), a kind of chastisement.

Boris and Steffi also had a stage when they realized and were sensitive to being, kind of, the first post-war, internationally-famous West German examples of positive competitiveness and national pride.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Sunday, April 16, 1989
By Melissa Isaacson of The Sentinel Staff

On a day when Martina Navratilova allowed everything but the water bottle to throw her off her game, Gabriela Sabatini decided to get serious Saturday, setting down the defending champion, 6-3, 6-2, in the semifinals of the Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island Plantation.

Navratilova, ranked second in the world, went down hard, losing for only the third time in 13 matches against Sabatini and spoiling an anticipated final today with Steffi Graf, who disposed of Arantxa Sanchez, 6-3, 6-2, in the day's first semfinal.

Graf and Navratilova, the top two ranked women players in the world, have played just once in the past 19 months, their most recent meeting coming in last year's Wimbledon final, which Graf won en route to capturing the Grand Slam.

Navratilova was out of sync almost from the start. After breaking Sabatini's serve to open the match, Navratilova lost her serve in the second, then seemed to lose confidence.

She was broken again in the sixth game, dropped the first set, 6-3, then was down, 4-0, in the second before a brief rally restored some respectability.

''I don't know if she was nervous but when she finished the first set, she was not the same. Her mind was not the same,'' Sabatini said of Navratilova. ''She didn't know what to do.''

Navratilova said the conditions hurt her more than anything. ''Gaby played real well, but the court was real slow and the balls were heavy and it took away my serve-and-volley game,'' Navratilova said.

Graf, too, complained of the slow, heavy conditions after rain postponed the first semifinal match by 3 hours, but it certainly did not deter the powerful West German, whose match record this year stands at 31-0 and tournament streak at six.

Today's final at 4 p.m. against Sabatini, ranked third, is the 17th meeting between the two and a rematch of last year's semifinal, which Sabatini won, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, in easily one of the best women's matches of the year.

''Tomorrow actually today should be another exciting match. It's very important for me to win,'' Sabatini said.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Miami Herald
Sunday, April 16, 1989
From Herald Wire Services

Third-seeded Gabriela Sabatini played a steady baseline game Saturday to beat second-seeded Martina Navratilova, 6-3, 6-2, and set up a final against top-ranked and top-seeded Steffi Graf in the $300,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island, Fla.

Graf won her 31st consecutive match and reached the final by defeating sixth-seeded Arantxa Sanchez, 6-3, 6-2.

"Today, everything worked very well," said Sabatini, who is ranked third in the world and is closing in on No. 2 Navratilova. "My returns were the best thing. I was concentrating on the match -- that's why I won. I was tough mentally."

Sabatini hit 24 winners and made only 18 unforced errors, as compared with Navratilova's 14 winners and 30 unforced errors.

Navratilova got in 68 percent of her first serves but won only 58 percent of those points -- she usually wins 75 to 80 percent of her first-serve points. She won only 17 percent of her second-serve points.

It became evident that Navratilova, a serve-and-volley player, was in trouble when she was forced to trade groundstrokes from the baseline on the clay, where she could not match Sabatini's heavy, topspin shots.

Navratilova broke Sabatini's service in the first game, with the Argentine winning only one point. But Sabatini broke back right away and broke again in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead in the first set.

In the second set, Sabatini broke Navratilova's serve twice for a 4-0 advantage. Navratilova fought back to trail only 4-2, but her serve was broken again in the seventh game before Sabatini served out the match.

Graf, who won here in 1986 and '87, said her victory against Sanchez was a good tuneup for her match against Sabatini.

"It's going to be much the same," Graf said. "They both play a topspin game from the baseline."

Last year Sabatini beat the West German 6-3 4-6 7-5 on these same clay courts for her second victory of the year against Graf, who lost only three times while winning 72 matches in her Grand Slam season.


Carlsson and Agenor Advance: Top-seeded Kent Carlsson of Sweden and second-seeded Ronald Agenor of Haiti won their semifinal matches in the $125,000 Athens international Nabisco Grand Prix tournament yesterday. The 21-year-old Swede downed unseeded Josef Cihak of Czechoslovakia, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, in a match that lasted 2 hours 40 minutes on the red clay center court of the Athens Tennis Club in Greece. Agenor came from behind to beat 19-year-old Franco Davin of Argentina, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

It's Graf And Sabatini's Island Again
April 16, 1989

AMELIA ISLAND -- Gabriela Sabatini won. She beat Steffi Graf 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in the semifinals of the Bausch & Lomb Championships.

It was emotional, it was dramatic, it spectacular. It was simply the best women's tennis match of the year.

"Nothing else came close," said ESPN`s Mary Carillo.

Today they will try to do it again. Graf and Sabatini. This time in the final (ESPN at 4 p.m.)

Navratilova will be watching again. Sabatini stopped the defending champion 6-3, 6-2 on a slow, wet court Saturday. Sabatini has beaten Navratilova three times in 13 tries; this was the easiest.

Graf rolled over Arantxa Sanchez 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal. For Graf, they're all easy.

Last year, Graf was smarting over Sabatini's victory at the Virginia Slims of Florida. Sabatini wanted to prove that her win a month earlier in Boca Raton was no fluke.

Graf swallowed the back-to-back defeats and went on to win the Grand Slam and the gold medal at Seoul. She paid back Sabatini, global revenge -- at the French Open, U.S. Open, Olympics and this year's Australian Open, their last meeting.

Graf has won 31 matches in a row. She is three months into the perfect tennis season.

Graf has won five tournaments this year, and only Chris Evert -- at the Virginia Slims of Florida -- made her work. Off her Lipton victory two weeks ago, Sabatini presents a challenge. At last some suspense on the women's tour.

"I haven't lost yet, but I have to play well," said Graf, who ends her 9 1/2 Weeks in America and returns to West Germany next week.

"I look forward to these matches."

Sabatini looks back.

"I will remember how I played last year against Graf here," Sabatini said. "It was a very tough match, and I kept fighting all the time. I was losing in the third set (Graf had a point for 4-1), but I stayed tough mentally. It was a very exciting match, the best I ever played against her."

Sabatini is ranked a career-high No. 3 and breathing down Navratilova's neck after Saturday's convincing victory.

Sabatini neutralized Navratilova's big serve with pinpoint returns. Without her mighty weapon, there was little Navratilova could do.

"Everything worked well, especially my returns," said Sabatini, who is playing her first claycourt tournament of the season.

"And I was very concentrated. I played the whole match the same."

Sabatini broke Navratilova for a 4-2 lead in the first set, then held at deuce.

Sabatini served out the set at deuce, saving three break points, finally winning on her third set point, pouncing on Navratilova with a hard serve and volley.

"I don't know if Martina was nervous, but after she lost the first set, she wasn't the same," Sabatini said. "Her mind was not the same."

Sabatini broke Navratilova twice for a 4-0 lead in the second set. Navratilova rallied to win the next two games, but Sabatini did not flinch. She broke Navratilova at 15, then served out the match.

"Gaby played real well, and the slow court took away my serve-and-volley game," said Navratilova, who has two semifinal losses in two claycourt tournaments this year.

"Under these conditions, it would have taken a miracle for me to win today."

A year ago, Navratilova routed Sabatini 6-0, 6-2 in the final, but the Argentine was a shadow of the player who defeated Graf a day earlier.

"Last year I was really tired," Sabatini said. "I couldn't move. I didn't think about that match at all."

After a four-hour rain delay, Graf beat Sanchez in the semifinals for the second week in a row. Last Saturday it was Hilton Head.

Graf led 5-0, then Sanchez won three games in a row, the highlight of the match. Graf had to work harder on the wet court.

"She's steady and consistent," Graf said. "There weren't too many easy shots."
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

And it would be an uphill battle for Gaby. Carillo's analysis of the difference between Steffi and Gaby is probably one of the most insightful things a true tennis pundit has ever publicly said. Compared with Steffi, and then with even more players as her career progressed, Gaby needed to use too much energy to win a point/game/match/tournament. And Steffi absolutely understood the concept of "The Moment" from the perspective of both personal competition and public entertainment spectacle. When the world was watching and the stakes were highest, Steffi instinctively knew that was the time to show your best stuff.

Week In Preview: Future No. 1? - Sabatini faces an uphill battle
St. Petersburg Times
Sunday, April 16, 1989

AMELIA ISLAND - Gabriela Sabatini seemingly has everything anyone could want. At 18, she is one of the best women's professional tennis players on the planet, rakes in more money than some small businesses, and has traveled to far-away places many teen-agers have only read about in school.

What's more, her dark, smoldering South American good looks have made her the Sophia Loren of the women's tour, producing a trail of endorsements and magazines begging to get her name and face on their product.

She has everything. Except, maybe, a little luck.

The Argentinian would probably own the women's circuit well into the 1990s, say many observers, if it weren't for top-ranked Steffi Graf, 19, who is 102-3 since the start of 1988 (through Friday). As it is, Sabatini will probably win her share of major tournaments, but may go down as the greatest champion who never was.

Sabatini is the top seed in the $200,000 Eckerd Open that begins Monday at Largo's Bardmoor Country Club.

''Sabatini doesn't have the ability to win a point like Graf. She has no sense of the moment, which is what Graf has over everybody else,'' said former touring pro and ESPN tennis commentator Mary Carillo during last month's Lipton International Players Championship in Key Biscayne. ''(Graf) owns it. This is where she lives. Everybody else is just trying to rent space.''

Needless to say, Sabatini's favorite number is one. Before heading out to practice Monday afternoon at the Bausch & Lomb Championships here, she reiterated her unalterable goal of one day becoming the No. 1-ranked player - Steffi Graf notwithstanding.

''(Being No. 2) is not what I want. I want to be No. 1,'' said Sabatini. ''I know it will not be easy because Steffi's there, but I don't want to stay No. 2. That's not my goal.''

Looking at their head-to-head matches, Sabatini hasn't had much of a choice. In 17 clashes with Graf, Sabatini is 2-15 - the latest a resounding 6-3, 6-0 drubbing in the Australian Open semifinals in January. (''It was like I couldn't do anything,'' Sabatini said at the time.)

And Graf is showing no signs of letting up. Coming off last year's Grand Slam season, she is 31-0 this year while, amazingly, dropping just one set.

But lately, most of the Sabatini/Graf collisions have been close, and since January 1988, Sabatini is 2-2. In those two victories, both at Florida tournaments, Sabatini attacked repeatedly with booming first serves, threading passing shots and well-timed volleys to beat the West German. She also won the mental war, staying more focused and solid when each match went to the third and deciding set.

''That's why I'm working on being mentally better. That's the key to beating Steffi,'' said Sabatini, who owns a condominium in Key Biscayne, near Miami. ''She is so strong mentally.''

And Sabatini's game has even improved since then. Her first serve has more kick and she's not running out of gas in third sets as frequently as before. Still, some experts aren't totally sold on her stamina, and they sometimes question her tactics and strategy during matches. Other observers say her second serve could stand some punch and her playing style less motion.

''She moves extremely well and hits the topspin good off both sides (backhand and forehand),'' said Hall of Famer Tony Trabert, now a CBS tennis commentator. ''She's learning to attack more which will help her. She's like a (John) McEnroe. She does a lot of different things (on the court). I would hate to tell someone that good that they can't be No. 1.''

Off the court, it's Graf who may be trailing Sabatini. According to Sabatini's agent, Dick Dell of ProServ, she's commanding millions of dollars in endorsement deals and has even raided Graf's homeland, snagging the ''Gabriela Sabatini'' line of perfume and toiletries through a West German cosmetics company. The perfume is expected to hit U.S. markets next year.

Sabatini could probably increase her marketing pull if she were more outgoing. Players and the media characterize her as being aloof and private. When asked if Sabatini was more friendly these days, Helena Sukova said: ''Maybe if she says one word before, she says two words now.'' But, Sabatini and her camp say she's just shy and extremely practical.

She sold her red BMW 325i because she was rarely in Key Biscayne to drive it. And instead of taking an airplane, she drove (a rental car) the 350 or so miles from Key Biscayne to the Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island. And she plans to drive the 200 miles from Amelia Island to Largo for the Eckerd Open, according to her agent.

''She likes to drive,'' said Patricio Apey, Jr., of ProServ. ''People think she's unfriendly, but she's not.''

''I'm very shy, very quiet,'' said Sabatini, who is comfortable speaking English. ''It's hard for me to talk with people I don't know. I need time to get used to the people. But right now, my mind is on my goal, and that is to be No. 1.''

In the meantime, women's tennis is in store for a sequel to the Evert-Navratilova rivalry of the 1970s and '80s. This one should certainly fill the 1990s and possibly stretch into the next century.

During that time, Sabatini is sure to get plenty of shots at Graf and the No. 1 ranking.

Regardless of who emerges as the victor in this two-woman war, Sabatini will undoubtedly leave her mark on the game; a mark as distinct as the imprint left in the clay by her bruising groundstrokes.


No. 1 Gabriela Sabatini, Argentina. Ranking: 3. Age: 18. Nickname: Gaby. Achievements: Titleholder of the 1988 Virginia Slims Championships and the 1989 Lipton International Players Championships. 1988 U.S. Open finalist and three-time French Open semifinalist.

No. 2 Natalia Zvereva (pronounced ZVAIR-a-vuh), U.S.S.R. Ranking: 8. Age: 18. Achievements: 1988 French Open finalist and tour's most impressive newcomer. Has beaten Martina Navratilova three times. The 1987 World Junior Champion, winning three of the four junior Grand Slam tournaments. Likes classical music.

No. 3 Katerina Maleeva (ma-LAY-va), Bulgaria. Ranking: 10. Age: 19. Achievements: 1988 U.S. Open quarterfinalist, 1988 titleholder of the Virginia Slims of Indianapolis. Has wins over fifth-ranked Helena Sukova and seventh-ranked Pam Shriver. Sister Manuela is ranked ninth on the tour.

No. 4 Hana Mandlikova (man-LEEK-ova), Australia. Ranking: 17. Age: 27. Achievements: Once ranked third, but is on the comeback trail after a hamstring injury limited her play much of last year. Has won the Australian Open twice, the French Open and the U.S. Open. Born in Czechoslovakia, but now an Australian citizen.

No. 5 Arantxa (a-RONCH-a) Sanchez, Spain. Ranking: 18. Age: 17. Achievements: A clay-court specialist, she is a two-time French Open quarterfinalist and a finalist at last year's Eckerd Open. Won her first pro tournament (the Belgian Open) last year. Has beaten Chris Evert. One of three professional players in her family. Listens to Beatles music to relax.

No. 6 Larisa Savchenko (sav-CHENK-o), U.S.S.R. Ranking: 19. Age: 22. Achievements: 1988 U.S. Open quarterfinalist and 1988 Virginia Slims of California finalist. Excellent doubles player, winning the Virginia Slims of Indianapolis and reaching the finals of Wimbledon with partner Zvereva.

No. 7 Sandra Cecchini (cha-KEEN-e), Italy. Ranking: 21. Age: 24. Achievements: A French Open quarterfinalist in 1985. Won two minor tournaments last year. Has beaten Chris Evert and Natalia Zvereva. Likes actor Mel Gibson.

No. 8 Susan Sloane, Lexington, Ky. Ranking: 22. Age: 18. Achievements: Third full year as a pro. Won first significant tournament (Virginia Slims of Nashville) last year. Has beaten Lori McNeil. Formerly a nationally ranked junior player and ex-member of the U.S. Junior Wightman Cup team. Likes music group Duran Duran.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Sabatini Spins Past Graf, Ends Streak
Jim Sarni
April 17, 1989

AMELIA ISLAND -- Nobody's perfect. Not even Steffi Graf.

Gabriela Sabatini ended Graf's chances for a perfect tennis season Sunday. The Argentine beat the world's best player 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, for the second year in a row at the Bausch & Lomb Championships.

Sabatini, who has given the Grand Slam champion three of her last four defeats, stopped Graf's 1989 winning streak at 31.

Graf was perfectly frustrated by Sabatini's topspin game, made even more deadly by the slower clay surface.

Graf committed 60 unforced errors -- twice as many as Sabatini. Sabatini won 102 points in the 2-hour, 25-minute match, and 60 were gifts.

"I lost it," said Graf, who battled cramps as well as Sabatini at the end.

"I tried to come in for those moonballs. Instead, I should have taken three steps backward and played it again. That was a big mistake."

"I beat her and I can do it again," said Sabatini, who beat Graf for the first time at the Virginia Slims of Florida in Boca Raton last year.

"My game bothers her."

After confounding second-seeded Martina Navratilova in the semifinals, Sabatini practiced until dark Saturday with coach Angel Gimenez, who gave her the battle cry for Graf:

Higher, deeper.

"I knew what to do, but I wasn't playing that way in the first set," Sabatini said. "I was playing too short. When I hit deep, she started making a lot of mistakes."

Graf won the first set, with a break in the fourth game, as Sabatini failed to convert four break point opportunities.

Sabatini held serve with three straight aces to start the second set, then broke Graf. At deuce, Sabatini raced back for a lob and blasted the ball back -- through her legs, as the crowd roared.

Sabatini won that point, and 10 of the next 12. Graf was in a daze, and down 0-5. Sabatini was two points from a love set -- Graf had not dropped a love set since before 1984, the German media said, if ever.

Graf snapped out of it, won the next three games, but Sabatini served the set out on her second try. It was only the second set -- Chris Evert got the first one in Boca Raton -- Graf had lost all year.

"(The between-the-legs) shot is a very special point," said Sabatini, who pulled it on Graf in last year's match, too.

"It gives me confidence and makes me want to play much better."

Sabatini broke Graf in the opening game of the final set, and clung to that foothold. Sabatini held serve three times at love and once at 30.

Sabatini served for the match at 5-4, but it slipped away. She missed a backhand wide and doublefaulted to go down love-30. Graf missed an easy volley, but then planted a lob on the baseline for 15-40. Sabatini stroked another backhand wide and the match was even.

Maybe the streak would live. Graf was willing, but her legs were killing her.

So many times, Graf had pulled away from a fatigued Sabatini at the end. Now, Graf crumbled.

Graf led 40-30, but netted a backhand for deuce. Graf saved one break point, then missed another game point with a backhand in the net. At deuce for a third time, Graf missed a forehand wide and then Sabatini won the game with a forehand volley.

Graf rubbed water on her legs at the changeover, but it didn't cure the pain.

Sabatini served out the match at 15, as Graf tried to force the action.

"I had big problems to move," Graf said. "I couldn't wait for those moonballs. I had to go for it."

After she lost here last year, Graf did not lose again until the Virginia Slims Championships, when Pam Shriver beat her in November. Losing breeds winning.

"This will make me work a little harder," Graf said. "This loss will help."

The victory will help Sabatini, who has beaten Graf, Navratilova and Evert in her last two tournaments. Sabatini has clearly established herself as the second-best player in 1989.

The Graf-Sabatini rivalry may have come of age, too.


Natalia Zvereva celebrated her 18th birthday Sunday with a victory in the doubles final and her first prize money check under ProServ`s representation.

Zvereva and Larisa Savchenko defeated Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver 6-7, 6-2, 6-1. Zvereva earned $10,650 -- $9,000 for doubles and $1,650 for reaching the second round in singles.

Zvereva, who declared her independence from the Soviet Tennis Federation by signing with ProServ Friday, intends to keep her earnings.

Zvereva said she heard from "someone" at the Soviet Tennis Federation Sunday, but would not comment further.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Deseret News
Salt Lake City, UT
Monday, April 17, 1989
Associated Press

Steffi Graf's 31-match winning streak ended in a most uncharacteristic fashion - the world's top ranked woman player drove her usually lethal forehand volley into the net.

On the other side of the net, it was also a rare day for Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, who achieved only her third career victory over Graf to win the $300,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships on Sunday.

"I started using my mind more,'' said third-ranked Sabatini, 19, who picked up $60,000 for the 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory. "She started making mistakes. My game was bothering her . . . This is a very emotional moment for me.''

Sabatini changed tactics after the first set and used deep top-spin groundstrokes to keep Graf pinned deep in the clay court during much of the 2 1/2-hour match. Sabatini took control of the match in the second set, when she rolled to a 5-0 lead.

"I was definitly not playing well,'' said Graf, who made 60 unforced errors, 29 of them on her usually lethal forehand. "My serve was terrible.''

It was Graf's first defeat since Nov. 19, 1988, when she was beaten 6-3, 7-6 by Pam Shriver in the Virginia Slims Championships in New York to end a 46-match winning streak.

"I should have concentrated better in the second set,'' said Graf, 19, of West Germany. "She was trying to play very high shots and I tried to hit short. I wasn't playing very well, definitely for five games.''

Sabatini, who was overpowered by Graf's strong baseline power in the first set, broke Graf's serve in the first game of the third set and made it stand up until Graf broke back in the 10th game to tie the score, 5-5.

It seemed Graf would steal the match, but Sabatini broke Graf's serve in a long game to go up. She then held on to win as Graf netted a forehand volley on match point.

"I had very big problems moving at five-all, or I think I would have won it,'' Graf said. "That's the reason I started coming to the net. I couldn't wait for her to keep hitting moon balls again.''

Sabatini, who beat fourth-ranked Chris Evert in the final of the International Players Championships two weeks ago, knocked off No. 2 Martina Navratilova in Saturday's semifinals before stopping Graf on Sunday.

"If I want to be number one, I have to beat them many times,'' Sabatini said. "I beat Graf and I can do it again.''

Sabatini also beat Graf in the semifinals of this tournament last year 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 before losing to Navratilova in the final.

ATHENS INTERNATIONAL: No. 2 seed Ronald Agenor of Haiti defeated top-seeded Kent Carlsson of Sweden 6-3, 6-4 in Athens, Greece, to capture his first Grand Prix title.

''I was ready to play my very best tennis today . . . Carlsson made some mistakes and my strategy was better than his,'' Agenor, ranked 26th in the world, said after the 98-minute match.

BENESPA OPEN: Top-seeded Luiz Mattar of Brazil won a $230,000 tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by beating third-seeded Martin Jaite of Argentina 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

RIVER OAKS: Magnus Gustafsson of Sweden won his first pro title by posting a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Yugoslavia's Bruno Oresar in a $200,000 tournament in Houston. Gustafsson needed just one hour to defeat Oresar, who continually hit to the Swede's forehand only to have winners smashed back at him..

KAL CUP: Robert Van't Hof of Dallas captured the title in Seoul, South Korea, by defeating Brad Drewett of Australia 7-5, 6-4.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Variant version of the previous article.

Sabatini Hands Graf First Loss - TENNIS
Monday, April 17, 1989
Chronicle Wire Services

Amelia Island, Fla. Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina handed Steffi Graf her first loss in 1989 yesterday, rallying after losing the first set to win the $300,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

"I really had to work hard to beat Steffi today. I had to fight," Sabatini said. "This match gave me much confidence for the future. I'm there mentally, physically and playing well."

Graf, 19, had only lost one set this year, to Chris Evert in the finals of the Virginia Slims of Florida. She hadn't lost since last November, when she was beaten by Pam Shriver at the Virginia Slims Championships in New York.

Graf made 60 unforced errors yesterday, 29 on her usually lethal forehand. "I was definitely not playing well," she said.

Sabatini, 18, who has worked extremely hard to improve her conditioning, now is 8-0 in three-set matches in 1989. Graf, who won the Grand Slam last year and the Australian Open earlier this year, is 1-1 in three-set matches this year.

Sabatini beat Graf twice last year, in the Bausch & Lomb and in the Virginia Slims of Florida.

"She was fighting all the time but I made too many mistakes," Graf said. "My serve was terrible today."

With Graf leading, 3-1, in the first set, Sabatini, the No.3 seed, had a chance to cut into the lead when she got a triple break point in the fifth game. But Graf rallied, using her powerful forehand, and won the game to take a 4-1 lead.

Both players held serve for the rest of the set, with Graf winning when Sabatini sent a forehand long.

Sabatini's top-spin game was much more effective in the second and third sets, and her athletic ability also was showcased when she chased down numerous Graf shots at either line.

"She always plays a top-spin but not usually that high," Graf said.

"I started playing a little different ... using my mind more," said Sabatini after picking up the $60,000 winner's check. "I played a little more deep. She started making many mistakes. My game was bothering her."

In the second set, Sabatini finally broke Graf's serve in the second game, then broke Graf again in the fourth game at love to take a 4-0 lead. Graf broke Sabatini in the sixth game and held serve in the seventh. But Sabatini held serve in the eighth game to win the set.

Sabatini broke Graf again in the first game of the third set and held serve again to take a 2-0 lead, winning the second game of the third set with an ace.

Both players held serve from that point on until the 10th game, when Graf broke Sabatini to tie the third set, 5-5. Graf said she suffered from cramps at that point and tried to shorten the points.

"I didn't know that she had pains," Sabatini said. "She was running a lot."

Sabatini broke Graf in the 11th game, and won the match when Graf she hit a cross-court backhand and Graf returned it into the net.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Gaby spoke too soon about being at the playing-at-the-same-level-every-week stage.

Monday, April 17, 1989
By Melissa Issacson of The Sentinel Staff

The first time Gabriela Sabatini defeated Steffi Graf, Graf had a miserable cold. The second time - in the semifinals of last year's Bausch & Lomb Championships - Graf played with a sprained right wrist.

On Sunday, the two met once again at Amelia Island, this time in the finals, and this time, there was nothing to take the shimmer off Sabatini's performance - a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory that snapped Graf's 31-match, five-tournament winning streak and re-established Sabatini as one of Graf's few serious rivals.

Sunday's 2-hour, 25-minute match was every bit as dramatic as last year's, which Sabatini won, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. For Graf, the top-ranked player in the world, it was every bit as frustrating.

''I was definitely not playing well, and I was not happy with it,'' said Graf, 19, whose last loss came against Pam Shriver, 6-3, 7-6, in the Virginia Slims Championships on Nov. 19.

Graf committed 60 unforced errors to 30 for Sabatini, who used an improved serve and a looping topspin barrage to unnerve Graf.

''I played using my mind a little more,'' said Sabatini, 18, who collected $60,000 with the victory. ''I started playing deeper, and she started making mistakes. My game was bothering her.''

Sabatini, who has won two tournaments in three weeks (she defeated Chris Evert in the finals of the Lipton International Championships in Key Biscayne), held off Graf's charges late in the second and third sets.

Leading, 5-0, in the second, Graf took the next three games before Sabatini closed the set on a long forehand return by Graf.

Sabatini regained her momentum and broke Graf's serve to open the third set. Graf hung tough and broke back to tie the set at 5. But Sabatini would not buckle, bringing the 11th game to deuce three times before a forehand volley gave her the second break of the set and a 6-5 lead.

''At the end, I had big problems at 5-all,'' said Graf, who said a case of leg cramps flared up right about then.

''She was fighting all the time, and I was making mistakes. That's the reason I was coming in. I couldn't wait for those moon balls again.''

Sabatini's final point came on a backhand from the baseline, which Graf responded to with a backhand volley that smacked into the net.

Graf said her game, as well as her concentration, faltered badly at the start of the second set.

It coincided nicely with Sabatini's improved service game, increased topspin and newfound aggressiveness.

Leading 1-0 with Graf serving at deuce in the second game of the second set, Sabatini pulled out her show-stopping between-the-legs return off a Graf lob. She won the point, won that game, and went on to take a 5-0 lead in the set.

''That's a very special point because it gives me confidence and makes me eager to play much better,'' Sabatini said. ''I don't just do it. I do it because after that point, I play much better.''

Indeed, Sabatini, ranked third behind Martina Navratilova, seems to have the only clue of how to beat Graf.

''I always think I can beat her,'' Sabatini said. ''I beat her two times, and I know my game bothers her a little bit. . . . I beat her, and I know I can do it again. I think I have the game.''

Sabatini, the top-seeded player in this week's Eckerd Open at the Bardmoor Country Club in Largo, said consistency is the biggest improvement in her game over the past year.

''I think I'm playing every week now at the same level,'' Sabatini said. ''It's not like before, when one week was good and the next week, not very good. Now, every week's the same.''

All of which is bad news for Graf, who is going for her second consecutive Grand Slam this year. Graf, however, said she doesn't see it that way.

''This is going to help, definitely,'' said Graf, who took home a consolation check of $24,000. ''I'm looking forward to the next tournament. Again, like last year, I'll work a little harder after this.''

Natalia Zvereva and Larisa Savchenko defeated Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-1, for the doubles title. Zvereva took home $10,650 for her play in the tourney - the first-ever pro check for the Soviet.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

April 17, 1989
Sydney Morning Herald

Gabriela Sabatini, the teenager who has everything except a grand slam title, has declared herself ready to win the French Open next month after handing Steffi Graf her first defeat of the year.

The Argentine teenager, who is ranked No3 in the world, pulled off the rare coup against the world No1 in Florida at the Amelia Island women's tennis tournament on Sunday, coming from one set down to win 3-6 6-3 7-5.

Her timely clay-court victory, in the lead-up to the French, broke Graf's 1989 winning streak of 31 matches. Last year West Germany's seemingly invincible "Maulin' Fraulein" lost only three matches, two courtesy of Sabatini.

At 18, Sabatini has the adoring world at her feet. Her career earnings top $US2 million and wherever she travels her dark Latin looks transfix her admirers and drive advertisers to hand over open cheques to endorse their products. She even has a yet-to-be-launched perfume named after her.

Her agent, Dick Dell of ProSev, calls himself a traffic cop who puts up the odd stop sign while directing the good offers to the glamour queen. "Because she is so good and because her of her looks, they all want her," Dell has said. "It's a lot easier now that she speaks English."

The only thing Sabatini doesn't have, however, is a grand slam title. Last year she reached the semi-final of the French Open and the final of the US Open. So far this year she has won the women's final of the International Players Championships, earlier this month in Key Biscayne, after taking Chris Evert to three sets 6-1 4-6 6-2.

She reached the final in Amelia Island by beating world No2 Martina Navratilova and, after dispensing with Graf, said she was looking forward to playing at Roland Garros next month.

"I have a good possibility in the French (Open)," she said. "I would like to win. This match gives me much confidence for the future. I'm there mentally, physically."

To win in Paris she will again have to conquer Graf, but the Argentine has proved herself one of the few players on the women's circuit capable of defeating the all-conquering German.

Sabatini orchestrated Sunday's rare victory by mixing up her attack, characterised by high topspin shots. She played her shots deeper into the court, a factor which bothered Graf.

Graf was gracious in defeat.

"It's been a long time since I had to make the first speech," she told the crowd after the match. "It was a great fight. I hope one day I'm back to show my best tennis."

* Australian Janine Thompson defeated Italy's Laura Golarsa 6-2 6-7 6-4 to win the $31,072 Country Club Palermo women's tennis tournament in Sicily.

Italian organisers announced they will try to have the clay-court tournament included in next year's Virginia Slims circuit by raising prize money to a total of $93,217.

* Belinda Cordwell of New Zealand won the DHL Singapore women's tennis singles title in Singapore last weekend with a straight-sets win over Akiko Kijimuta, of Japan.

The 23-year-old second seed won 6-1 6-0 in 75 minutes.

Unseeded Kijimuta, who scored upset wins over top seed Anne Minter, of Australia, and defending champion Monique Javer, of the UK, in the earlier rounds, offered little resistance.

Cordwell partnered Australia's Elizabeth Smylie to victory in the doubles by defeating Ann Henricksson and Beth Herr, of the United States, 6-7 (8-6)6-2 6-1.

* Victoria's smokers will provide $30,000 to the Oz Tennis junior development program through the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.

The money, which comes from a State government-imposed levy on tobacco products, will provide coaching and equipment for disadvantaged primary school children throughout Victoria.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The State
Columbia, SC
Wednesday, April 19, 1989
BOB COLE, Senior Writer

What's this? The unsinkable Molly Brown at the bottom of the ocean? Mike Tyson being counted out flat on his back? Orel Hershiser unable to get a batter out? Carl Lewis being smoked in the 100 by a one-legged white man?

Steffi Graf's loss to Gabriela Sabatini Sunday in Amelia Island, Ga., isn't as unlikely as the scenarios above, but mark your calendar because it's a rare occurrence on the women's tennis tour.

Graf's 31-match winning streak came to an end when "old" nemesis Sabatini rallied for a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory in the finals of the Bausch & Lomb Championships. Going into the match, Graf had lost only one set all year and had won all five tournaments she had entered.

She was invincible at the recent Family Circle Magazine Cup tournament at Hilton Head Island, where she cruised to the title over Natalia Zvereva in less than an hour. That's about her average length of stay on the court this year against a field of opponents that has simply been overpowered by the West German Wunderkind.

They might as well have left their racquets behind when they went out to play her. It was going to take something more potent to get her attention. Like an elephant gun.

"She makes me look like a little girl on the court," Zvereva said after taking her 6-1, 6-1 pounding. It was her third loss to Graf in three tries. At least she's improving; her first experience turned into a 6-0, 6-0 embarrassment in the 1988 French Open finals.

Graf, two months shy of her 20th birthday, appears positioned to dominate the women's tour the way Martina Navratilova did until Graf's emergence in 1987 as the world's best female player. She won 11 of 14 events and lost only three of 75 matches in 1988 en route to winning the Grand Slam. And the way she's played so far this season makes her a strong candidate to become the first person to put together back-to-back Slams.

It was inevitable that she would lose a match; nobody goes through a season unbeaten. In fact, she and Navratilova predicted it at Hilton Head.

"She can be beaten, and I'm one of those who can do it -- and don't you forget it," Navratilova told reporters after losing to Zvereva in the Family Circle Cup semifinals.

"I think it's possible for someone to beat me," Graf said. "You can never say you can never be beaten. It's always possible."

Now she's proved the point. But don't expect it to become a habit, even though Sabatini has been the author of three of Graf's four losses during the past two years.

The 18-year-old Sabatini, with her penetrating topspin forehand and ability to cover the court, figures to provide Graf with her biggest challenge during the next decade -- unless there is a teeny-bopper somewhere out there with the tenacity, desire and work habits that Graf exhibited on her drive to the top.

What we see now when she takes the court is a remarkable athlete with weapons far superior to anyone else on the tour. What we didn't see, but what we're told took place, were the years of concentrated effort and hard work that enabled her to reach the summit.

Graf began her odyssey to greatness at the age of 4 when her father gave her a sawed-off racquet, which she used to bang the ball against the walls of the family house in Bruhl, West Germany. Convinced that his daughter had the potential to be a champion, Peter Graf gave up his insurance and car business to build a tennis club.

"I wanted to make it easier for Steffi to practice year-round," he said.

Obviously, she had the advantage of an early nudge from, and the intense backing of her family. So did Chris Evert -- and so do most of the world's top athletes. But opportunity is only part of it. With opportunity must come the dedication to work at attaining the skills. Graf has it.

Says Pavel Slozil, her coach of two years: "Steffi always wants to work. She is pushing me all the time. I'd like to continue to work with her because I'd like to show that last year was not a fluke."

More than $3.6 million in career earnings and an .850 winning percentage attest to the fact that 1988 was no fluke.

She says she's not gunning for another Grand Slam. "I wasn't trying for it last year, either," she said. "It just turned out to be such an incredible year."

There are those who think she can pull it off again. After presenting the U.S. Open championship trophy to Graf last year at Flushing Meadow, Don Budge, the first man to win the Grand Slam, whispered in her ear: "I think you can do it again in 1989."

It would be an incredible two-year run if she did it. To rise above all the distractions, to win the four majors on four different surfaces, to dominate the way Graf has the past two years, requires tunnel vision, someone with the single-mindedness to lock onto a goal and never lose sight of it.

In that context, Graf just might have what it takes.

"I only think about winning," she said. "I don't think about my ranking or how much money I have. Just winning."

That's something she does better than anyone else on the tour.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Worth pointing out that Steffi must have learned something from the loss because their 1989 U.S. Open had many similarities (Gaby pushing Steffi back behind the baseline with heavy topspin, Steffi cramping in the final set) but that time she pulled it out.

Live, lose and learn
Daily News of Los Angeles
Thursday, April 20, 1989
Associated Press

Steffi Graf learned something about her game and Gabriela Sabatini's game after a rare loss. And she is looking to profit from it.

"If you win everything easy, you let down once in a while," Graf said yesterday after beating Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria, 6-2, 6-4, in an exhibition tournament in Monte Carlo, Monaco. "You have to have some tough matches and there are some things you have to work on."

Sabatini beat Graf last Sunday in the final of the Bausch & Lomb tournament in Amelia Island, Fla. It was Graf's first loss of the year after 31 victories.

"Gabriela played a great match," she said. "I learned from this match and it was good it came now and not a bit later. I am going to be much more motivated for the other tournaments."

Martina Navratilova, ranked second behind Graf, will meet the 19-year-old West German today in the final of the Women's Cup, a four-player exhibition. Navratilova beat Chris Evert, 6-4, 6-0 in a little over an hour.
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