Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
"I wake up / On the floor. / Start it up again, / Like it matters anymore. / I don't know / If it does. / Is this really all / That there ever was? / Put the gun / In my mouth. / Close your eyes, / Blow my fucking brains out. / Pretty patterns / On the floor. / That's enough for you, / But I still need more, more, more." -- Nine Inch Nails, "1,000,000," The Slip, 2008.
TENNIS; McNeil Ousts Graf in an Upset for the Ages
June 22, 1994
New York Times
WIMBLEDON, England, June 21— While a storm brewed around Center Court and Lori McNeil created a maelstrom at the net, Steffi Graf tonight became the first defending champion in the 108-year history of Wimbledon's coveted women's singles crown to discover herself dethroned in the first round.
Playing too tamely and lamely for her own good, and unable to provoke herself into mimicking the attacking style that was working wonders for McNeil, Graf was ousted, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5). While the 22d-ranked McNeil treated the net as if they shared a magnetic attraction, Graf served and volleyed just twice in the match, and admitted she should have been more aggressive.
The match required 1 hour 43 minutes and was twice interrupted by sudden showers that ultimately created three hours' worth of delays and wreaked havoc on the day's schedule.
Today was not only the longest day of the year but the gloomiest for Graf, who had won Wimbledon for the past three years and owned a 21-match unbeaten streak atop its damp lawns.
'Hurts to Lose'
"It doesn't hurt to lose my crown, it hurts to lose," said Graf, who had not lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament in a decade and had only made this premature an exit at a Slam twice in her career. Graf was just 15 when she lost in the first round of the 1984 United States Open, and 14 when she fell in the first round of her first-ever [sic] Slam, the 1983 Australian Open.
At Wimbledon, where she holds five titles, Graf's weakest efforts had come with fourth-round defeats in 1984 and 1985.
But of just three first-round losses suffered anywhere by Graf since 1985, McNeil can now take responsibility for two of them.
"It's not that big of an upset because of who I lost to," said Graf, who had defeated McNeil on eight straight occasions before being stunned by her in their last meeting, the opener of the 1992 Virginia Slims Championships. "It's very disappointing, and obviously it didn't help me that it started raining, but we both had to play the conditions, and she played better than me; that was obvious."
As she has done before, McNeil made a point of attacking both the net and Graf's unsteady backhand; time and again she pushed the German deep into her least favorite corner and was rewarded by a weak backhand into the net.
"It was a big part of my strategy to make her pass me off the backhand," said the 30-year-old McNeil, who honed her tennis on Houston's public courts and described herself and her game as slow to mature.
McNeil said she began preparing for this match last week at Eastbourne as soon as she heard she had drawn Graf. Distracted by the news and fresh from winning the Birmingham title, McNeil, Eastbourne's defending champion, faltered in the third round.
But today, McNeil's concentration was impeccable. After enjoying breakfast prepared by Ruth Roper, the mother of her friend, Robin Givens, McNeil said she focused on Graf.
Making the 'Right Decisions'
"You can't focus on the conditions, you just have to watch the ball that much more," said McNeil.
"I was making the right choices, the right decisions, and that consumed my thoughts the whole match," said McNeil, who converted her third match point of the tie breaker with a sharp forehand volley off an ineffectual forehand pass by Graf.
The German bumbled through the first set, always playing catchup, only to double fault at set point after the match resumed at 5-5 after an hourlong rain delay. Graf broke McNeil in the third game of the second set, and then went up by 4-2 after a 100-minute rain delay, but McNeil broke her as she attempted to serve for the second set. Pushed into a familiar corner, Graf made a familiar mistake and dumped a backhand into the net. That same scenario cost her the set point she earned against McNeil in the 11th game.
Two more errors in the tie breaker, a netted smash and a double fault, put Graf behind, 4-3, and once McNeil went ahead, 6-3, with a backhand volley, the defending champion knew she was, quite literally, about to make the wrong kind of history.
"I'm not going to kill myself over it," said Graf, who admitted that every other form of self-indictment would likely plague her.
"I wouldn't be here if I'd lost my will to win," she said, then ran toward a waiting limousine and left the grounds without a backward glance.
Davenport Replaces Pierce
Lindsay Davenport, an 18-year-old Californian, inherited the spot vacated by seventh-seeded Mary Pierce and was not so thrilled to face Julie Halard of France. But before the rains settled in, she dispatched Halard, 6-1, 6-4.
Davenport raced over to England Sunday after staying up all night at the Murietta High School gymnasium in a post-graduation bonding with her classmates. Upon arriving in London, she was informed that although her seeding spot, No. 9, had not changed, her spot in the draw had.
"I was very worried and disappointed because I had a good draw before and a chance to play Martina," said Davenport, who might have faced the nine-time champion in the fourth round but instead found herself on Graf's side of the draw, a side that became wide open once McNeil rendered it Graf-less.
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO, suddenly a favorite despite her aversion to grass, defeated KATERINA MALEEVA, 6-1, 6-2, and Spain's other top woman, CONCHITA MARTINEZ, seeded third, passed the first round with a 6-1, 6-3 victory against RENE SIMPSON-ALTER. Tenth-seeded GABRIELA SABATINI had just split sets with JUDITH WIESNER when darkness halted play. . . . Security for Graf was reportedly increased after officials learned that KAY-KURT ZUM FELDE of Frankfurt, who has harassed her for the last three years and was ejected from Center Court last year, might be in attendance. Graf later said her loss had nothing to do with anything but her inability to perform.