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post #3931 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 2014, 11:53 AM
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Becker, Graf Win at Wimbledon - Sweep For West Germany
Monday, July 10, 1989
Bruce Jenkins, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wimbledon, England When they were little kids, swatting tennis balls on the courts outside Heidelberg, West Germany, Boris Becker and Steffi Graf were reluctant equals.

"I was about 9, and the worst of the boys," Becker recalled. "She was 7, and the best of the girls. So I had to hit with her."

Although they lived just 15 miles apart, it was not a terribly close relationship. As the years passed, they saw little of each other beyond the tournaments. But on Centre Court of the fabled All England Club yesterday, they came together in a most special way.

Each won the Wimbledon championship.

Graf won her second consecutive title, 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 over Martina Navratilova in the women's final, held over from a rainy Saturday, and Becker drilled Stefan Edberg, 6-0, 7-6, 6-4, for his third championship in five years. The skies were dark and foreboding throughout, but not a drop fell until Becker's trophy presentation. By then, not a soul was complaining.

It was rare enough that both finals were contested on the same day. That had occurred only twice in Wimbledon history. For the country of West Germany, the double-decker title was an epic event.

"It's so brand-new and so impossible to think of," said Becker, "the people in my country may not grasp it until we're not playing any more. Only when Steffi and I are grandmother and grandfather, I think, will people realize what we have achieved."

Becker's homeland has known many great sporting moments since World War II, but mostly on the East German side. Among the 20-odd West German journalists here, the consensus opinion ranked yesterday with the World Cup soccer victories in 1954 (in Switzerland) and 1974 (in Munich).

"I keep thinking back to many years ago, when Boris was an incredibly clumsy kid, and Steffi was as skinny as a gymnast," said Conny Konzack, a Munich magazine editor who has covered tennis for 19 years. "It is really quite amazing."

Becker is the only German man to win Wimbledon, Graf just the second woman (Cilly Aussem, 1931). Last night, the two of them danced together at the Champions Dinner, undoubtedly thinking about old times.

"We know each other and respect each other," said Steffi. "We've practiced next to each other this week, even had a couple of dinners. We've probably been closer than ever before."

Certainly closer than either of their opponents got to victory yesterday. One can only imagine how the British tabloids will treat this uncommon barrage of German tennis power. It certainly won't be pretty.

Graf said she felt so confident against Navratilova, she almost lost her composure. "I had such a good feeling when I broke serve (for 3-1) in the third set. I really had to tell myself, "Come on, concentrate,' and not start laughing."

Becker's 6-0 first set was sort of a chuckle, too. It's incredible that a man can hit the ball as hard as Becker, with such complete abandon, and still keep it in the court. Although it was Edberg, the defending champion, on the other side, the script was already being written.

"You never want to give Boris that kind of confidence," said Edberg. "He plays so well when he's in charge."

Edberg had only one real chance to recover. After breaking serve for a 6-5 lead in the second set, he had a 40-0 edge - three set points - on his serve. But Becker hit a hooking, forehand passing shot down the line, and on the next four points, Edberg netted his highly respected backhand volley.

"I can count on one hand the times I've handled a situation like that," Edberg said. "Five bad points in a row. Why? I don't know. That's what makes it so interesting." It was especially interesting for Becker, who stormed through the tie-breaker, 7-1.

By the start of the third set, Edberg was completely out of sorts. He complained about the "soft" balls, saying they were "different than any other day." But that wasn't such a puzzle; this was the first real cold-weather day of the tournament.

"I can't blame the balls," Edberg said later, with a smile. "Probably, it was me."

When Edberg fell behind 0-40 on his serve at 4-all of the third set, he tried to remain confident. "I was thinking about last year, being down 0-40 to (Miloslav) Mecir at 3-all and two sets down," he said. "I came back from that one. That gives you toughness."

Sure enough, Edberg fought back to deuce. But then, shockingly, he sailed a backhand volley long and double-faulted the game to Becker. With the match firmly in his grasp, Becker served it out, delivering a first-service winner to the forehand on match point.

Wimbledon has seen some distinctive celebrations over the years, from Bjorn Borg on his knees to Pat Cash in the stands. Becker had an interesting version. He held one fist firmly in the air, walked to the net to shake Edberg's hand, headed calmly toward the chair . . . and suddenly wheeled around, firing his racket 20 rows into the seats.

"It's difficult to just explode right away," he said. "Then, after a couple of seconds, you realize that you won it, and the explosion comes out. Thank God it didn't hit anybody."

"It's gone to Birmingham (England), Boris," said a British writer. "A lady from Birmingham got it."

"Oh, good."

Did he think of asking for it back?

"Oh, no. It is gone with the wind."

The ceremony - very pomp, all kinds of circumstance -featured the inevitable duke and duchess of Kent, masters of small talk. What does one say to the odd ballboy, or the frustrated loser, or even the ecstatic winner at a time like this? Somehow, the duchess always comes through, with smiles all around. Another nice part of Wimbledon.

It was only now, in a spontaneous little victory lap, that Becker erred. How many times has it happened: You've won Wimbledon, there's a drizzle in the air, you're juggling a slippery trophy, and you drop the darn thing.

No matter. When Becker was asked to sum up this day, for himself and his country, he said, "It is a fairy tale."

And thus it will always remain.

NOTES: Meredith McGrath, a Stanford-bound student from Michigan, reached the finals of the girls singles before losing to Andrea Strnadova, 6-2, 6-3. Strnadova had knocked off the highly publicized Jennifer Capriati in the quarterfinals . . . Rick Leach and Jim Pugh are still looking for their first Wimbledon doubles title after losing to John Fitzgerald and Anders Jarryd yesterday, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6. Fitzgerald and Jarryd each completed a unique Grand Slam, having won all of the major tournaments in doubles. This was their first one together, however . . . The women's doubles was a breeze for Helena Sukova and Jana Novotna, 6-1, 6-2, over Larisa Savchenko and Natalia Zvereva.
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post #3932 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 2014, 11:56 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Two Wunderkinds Ruling the Courts
The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
Monday, July 10, 1989
Furman Bisher, Journal Sports Editor

LONDON - Something wonderful happened to the incumbent Baron von Richthofen as he sat in the Royal Box at Wimbledon Sunday afternoon. "Britain rules the waves," history taught us, now Germany (West) rules the courts, at least those of grass at Wimbledon, though browned from overuse.

German nobility has lost some of its glitter, so the Baron found work as ambassador to the Court of St. James. Thus he came to be included as a guest at the finals of the 103rd All-England Tennis Club championships, though having to share space in the Duke and Duchess of Kent's pew with such thespian laborers as Rex Harrison and an American refugee named Kirk Douglas.

The men's and women's championships would be decided by a cast including two Germans, a Swede and one American, she an ersatz American. Martina Navratilova is from Fort Worth by way of Czechoslovakia, or maybe it's the other way around.

The women were running a day late, a circumstance that found a lady columnist named Sue Mott a-stewing Sunday morning. Saturday is traditionally their day on Centre Court, but weather had caused some juggling of the schedule that brought Boris Becker and Ivan Lendl on stage first. They were barely able to finish their semifinal before rain closed out action for good.

Martina's Seedless Matchings

"The women's singles final was a washout because officials preferred crass expediency to common sense," Ms. Mott raged in The Sunday Times. "Instead, both women were stranded in the locker room for a summons that never came. The men came first. Don't they always, where ancient chauvinist attitudes hold sway?"

The dear lasses came first on Sunday, and Steffi Graf, the defendant, dispatched Navratilova with alacrity, though going the limit of three sets may not sound like so. She had done the same a year ago, but from a position one set and two games down. In the two sets she won this time, Graf allowed Navratilova only three games.

"Basically, I got served off the court," the ex-Czech said quite candidly, followed by, "Today was fun. I enjoyed the hell out of it." Sounds like no losing Texan I ever heard.

Navratilova's defeat had been a foregone conclusion, if you paid close attention to that astute analyst and former men's champion, Arthur Ashe. "Her matchings have been like my favorite grapes - seedless," he'd said. The only seeded player Navratilova had met before Graf was Hana Mandlikova, another Czech expatriate who took off to Australia for a husband she has since divorced.

Graf dominated Navratilova in every number she could be dominated, from aces to service breaks. Only once did Navratilova break Graf, and that led to the set she won in a tie-break.

No. 3 for Becker, Indeed

Now Graf's half of the German double was complete, finished off with an ace that Navratilova could only wave at, and it was Boris Becker's time. Since he had first appeared here as an unseeded 17-year-old, and had won, crashing in on the party of an unsuspecting world, Becker had defended his title, then been unseated in a semifinal and beaten last year in the final by Stefan Edberg. He had been offended at the seeding here, third to Ivan Lendl and Edberg. Now No. 3 would have his shot at No. 2.

Poor Ivan Lendl, he can't win at Wimbledon, neither can he pick winners. After he had lost to Becker in the churlish weather of Saturday, he was asked to predict the champion.

Edberg had had an extra day of rest because of the rain. "Mentally, that's more important than physically," Lendl explained. He moves better on grass and would be able to handle Becker's serve better, he said. So Edberg had the advantages.

Three sets was all Becker needed. Edberg was the one who looked tired. Becker boomed him off the court in a love set for openers. Edberg played half an hour before he won a game. As easily as Edberg had taken Becker in the final a year ago, so did Becker take Edberg this time. Then, he flung his racquet into the standees' section, fielded by a lady from Birmingham, and as he had done his last year as champion, proceeded to fumble the claret jug at the ceremonial presentation.

In the course of one afternoon, two German wunderkinds barely housebroken had seized a grip on Wimbledon that may last for years. Graf was 20 on June 14. Becker is 21. The incredible geographical note is that they grew up 10 kilometers apart, she in Bruhl, he in Leimen. They batted balls together and played tournaments together when they were children. "She was the best of the girls, I was the worst of the boys," Becker said. Now they are champions of the world.

"It is like a fairy tale," he said, with gingerbread houses and castles along the Rhine.

Not since Baron von Cramm of the '30s has German tennis known such heights. The American game, meanwhile, slides another notch. The British press completed writing off John McEnroe in the Sunday editions, John the Great with regret, John the Brat quite cheerily.

Chris Evert moves out and there, on court while Graf paraded about holding aloft her huge trophy plate, Navratilova looked pitiable standing there with her little silver card tray. American firepower has been sharply cut back unless there is hope among the rising youth.

I will have to say this of Graf, she does things old tennis players like. She serves with both balls in hand, old sandlot style. None of that two-handed backhand stuff for her. No stalling, no mewling about, break out the gear and get the game on. May her style catch on around this old big ball we live on.
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post #3933 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 2014, 11:57 AM
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Monday, July 10, 1989
By JIM SARNI, Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England -- Boris Becker and Steffi Graf raised their champagne glasses and toasted each other at the Wimbledon dinner Sunday night at the Savoy.

The two champions. The two West Germans.

A nation had dreamed of this moment. It happened on a super Sunday, as first Graf defeated Martina Navratilova for the women's title, then Becker stopped Stefan Edberg in the men's final. Rain and darkness Saturday had postponed the women's final until Sunday.

''For Steffi to win and for me to win, I thought it was quite special,'' Becker said. ''I think people in my country are going to realize that when we're not playing anymore.

''Now it is so brand new and so impossible to think of, that something like that can happen. Only when we are grandfather and grandmother will people realize what we have achieved.''

Becker, 21, and Graf, 20, met each other when they were kids on the court. Becker was from Leimen, and Graf from Bruhl, about 10 miles apart.

''I used to be the worst in the boys and she was the best in the girls,'' Becker said. ''When I was maybe 9 and she was 7, I had to hit with her all the time. From then on, we more or less went through the same tournaments and kept up a relationship.''

''We never imagined this,'' said Graf, who won Wimbledon last year, then watched Becker lose the final to Edberg.

''In the last few years, there was talk about it. It means so much for German tennis. It's special because we know each other well, we respect each other and enjoy each other.''

Becker and Graf shared dinner during Wimbledon. They practiced side by side before their matches Sunday.

''He threw a ball over to my court,'' Graf said.

''In the last few weeks, we got together more than we've ever been,'' Becker said. ''We have now a very special relationship, almost.''

West Germany hailed Becker first, when he won Wimbledon at 17, five years ago. But a year later, Graf grabbed the glory when she passed Navratilova to become No. 1 and last year, when she won the Grand Slam.

Becker did not fulfill his great expectations after winning Wimbledon, but he captured the Masters last year and moved to No. 2 in the rankings, behind Ivan Lendl, this year. With his third Wimbledon title, on the heels of a semifinal finish at the French Open, Becker is as close to No. 1 as he has been.

''It may never happen again,'' said Becker, pondering another West German Grand Slam double. ''Maybe... hopefully. It depends more on me than on her.''

-- John Fitzgerald and Anders Jarryd defeated Rick Leach and Jim Pugh 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 for the men's doubles title... Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova won the women's doubles, upsetting Larissa Savchenko and Natalia Zvereva 6-1, 6-2... Pugh and Novotna take on Mark Kratzman and Jenny Byrne in the mixed doubles final today... Jennifer Capriati of Lauderhill and Meredith McGrath reached the junior doubles final... Andrea Strnadova, who beat Capriati in the quarterfinals, won the junior singles.
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post #3934 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 2014, 11:58 AM
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The Philadelphia Inquirer
Monday, July 10, 1989
Diane Pucin, Inquirer Staff Writer

He was facing a potentially critical deficit, down 6-5 and 40-0, yet Boris Becker appeared almost arrogant as he stared down server Stefan Edberg.

Five times Edberg pounded excellent serves, and five times Becker cracked even better returns. Two were outright winners, and three were good enough to force errant volleys from Edberg.

Becker won that 12th game of the second set and forced a tie-break. He won the tie-break. He won the third set. And the 21-year-old West German became the youngest three-time Wimbledon winner with his 6-0, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 victory yesterday.

It was a tremendous day for West German tennis. Earlier, on the same Centre Court, 20-year-old Steffi Graf won the women's title over Martina Navratilova, 6-2, 6-7 (1-7), 6-1.

Because of the rain that plagued the tournament, it was the first time since 1973 that the men's and women's finals were played on the same day.

"When we are a grandfather and grandmother, people will realize what we have achieved," Becker said.

Becker and Graf have been friends since childhood. Their home towns - Becker's Leimen and Graf's Bruhl - are about 13 miles apart.

"I used to be the worst player among the boys, and she was the best girl, so when I was maybe 9 and she was 7, I had to hit with her," Becker said. ''From then on, we more or less went through the same tournaments and kept a special relationship."

Yesterday's title was one for which Becker had ached since he won back-to- back Wimbledon crowns in 1985 and 1986, the first as an unseeded 17-year- old.

"Those victories were like fairy tales," he said. "It wasn't true, really. But over the last two or three years, I had to work harder. So I feel, in a way, much more proud now than I did in those early years."

Becker said his shocking loss to Peter Doohan in the second round at Wimbledon in 1987 had pushed him to begin working harder.

"I had to realize that not everything is sunshine and not everything is good," he said. "Then you really have to dig deep down and find the answer."

Graf's victory was predictable. Becker's wasn't - at least, not the dominating nature of it.

Both men's semifinal losers had given the edge to Edberg, the No. 2 seed and defending champion. John McEnroe liked Edberg's volley over Becker's
serve. Ivan Lendl liked the 23-year-old Swede's quickness and return of serve.

Edberg also appeared to have another advantage. He had won his semifinal in three sets over McEnroe on Friday. Rain pushed Becker-Lendl to Saturday, and Becker needed four hours to win a tough five-setter.

"It's a big edge, physically and especially mentally, for Edberg to have that extra day," Lendl had said.

Twenty-three minutes after the first set started yesterday, that thinking turned out to be faulty. That's how long it took Becker to take a set in which
Edberg won only 10 points.

Graf still was holding her postmatch news conference when she looked at a TV monitor.

"Boris won the first set?" she said. "Already? Wow."

"I didn't get a great start today," Edberg was to say later, understating the case. "It's hard to tell right now what really went wrong and figure it out at this moment. But I wasn't as sharp as I've been in the other matches here."

When Becker held serve to start the second set and win his seventh straight game, it looked like a romp.

But Edberg finally settled down, fending off a break point in the second game and holding serve. More important than his tying the set was the confidence he gained.

"It didn't bother me so much to lose the first set, because you can lose a set pretty quick on grass," Edberg said. "When I won my first game in the second set, I felt I was back in the match. And I said to myself to keep going and work as hard as you can."

It looked as if his hard work was going to pay off. In the 11th game of the second set, he came up with his first service break, hitting a forehand return for a winner off Becker's second serve. There he had it - a 6-5 lead and a chance to serve for the set.

"That was my chance," Edberg said. "I had it 6-5, 40-0. This is the situation where you really should stamp your authority. I can count on one hand the times I have lost in a situation like that. But I played five bad points in a row.

"It could have been a different story if I had won that game, because I was starting to play a bit better."

Becker said that, as he waited to return serve at 40-0, he was thinking: ''Funny things happen when you're in the final.

"It's almost unexplainable what sometimes happens," he said. "Normally, there's no way you can win that set. But if you think like that, you also don't win. So you always have to think positive."

When Edberg lost that game, he unraveled long enough for Becker to sweep through the tie-break.

Becker went on to score the first and only service break of the third set, going up by 5-4, when Edberg double-faulted on break point.

In the final game, Edberg made two spectacular forehand passing shots to get to 30-all after dropping the first two points. But on the next two points, Becker hit booming service winners - the trademark he stamped on his game four years ago, when he won his first Wimbledon title.

The match was over.

First Becker grabbed his head. Then he tossed his racket high into the stands.

"I hope I didn't hurt anybody," he said later.

No. A woman from Birmingham, England, caught the souvenir and went home happy. Like Becker. And Graf. And all of West Germany.


In the men's doubles final, third-seeded John Fitzgerald of Australia and Anders Jarryd of Sweden defeated top-seeded Californians Rick Leach and Jim Pugh, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

In the women's doubles final, third-seeded Czechoslovakians Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova swept second-seeded Soviets Larisa Savchenko and Natalia Zvereva, 6-1, 6-2.
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post #3935 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 2014, 12:06 PM
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Steffi can't pass up a chance at one of the oldest comedy routines. And we note she's still quite interactive with the fans, despite the scare earlier in the year.

Graf's reference to Becker was greatly exaggerated
St. Petersburg Times
Monday, July 10, 1989
SUSIE WOODHAMS, Special to The St. Petersburg Times and Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England - Steffi Graf and Boris Becker celebrated their singles victories together at the traditional champion's dinner at the Savoy Hotel, even though Becker arrived at 10:45 p.m. - an hour and 15 minutes late.

Graf, wearing a white evening dress with black lace, said in her brief speech: ''I'm happy to be next to the men's champion, the late Boris Becker.''

Becker, meanwhile, quipped: ''I think I should give my speech in German so that she (Graf) can understand better.''

The night didn't have a completely German flavor to it, though. The menu was in French.

It's a scream: Graf gets look at boisterous admirer

A Centre Court fan got a special thank you and a close-up glimpse of the women's championship trophy from Graf. Elsayed Ahmed Aly, visiting the tournament from Port Said, Egypt, had led the cheering for Graf.

''I did the same last year,'' he said. ''I saw her around the tournament (Saturday) and took her picture, and I told her I would do the same thing again.''

When Graf was presented with the silver plate that goes to the women's champion, she held it aloft and carried it to a corner of the court so that Aly, in the last row of standing room, could get a closer look. The player and fan were about 10 meters apart.

''The guy was just screaming all the time, 'Come on!' after every single point,'' Graf said. ''And you could hear him from one end of the court to the other. That's why I wanted to know who it was.''

Fitzgerald, Jarryd beat Leach, Pugh for doubles title

The third-seeded team of John Fitzgerald and Anders Jarryd defeated top-seeded Americans Rick Leach and Jim Pugh 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) to win the men's doubles title. The win gives Fitzgerald of Australia and Jarryd of Sweden a doubles Grand Slam - although not in the same year or with the same partner.

Fitzgerald had won the 1986 French Open with Tomas Smid, the 1984 U.S. Open with Smid and the 1982 Australian Open with John Alexander. Jarryd, meanwhile, had won the 1987 U.S. Open with Stefan Edberg, the 1987 French Open with Robert Seguso, the 1987 Australian Open with Edberg and the 1983 French Open with Hans Simonsson.

Fitzgerald and Jarryd were runners-up last year at the French and Wimbledon.

Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia defeated Soviets Larisa Savchenko and Natalia Zvereva 6-1, 6-2 in the women's final.

Frankly, Boris . . . the racket is now Helen's keepsake

Moments after the final point in his victory, Becker hurled his racket into the stands.

''When that final point was there and I won it, it was difficult to explode. After a couple of seconds you realize you've won it and the explosion comes out,'' he said. ''Thankfully I didn't hurt anybody. The racket is gone with the wind.''

The Puma racket bearing Becker's name actually was gone with Helen O'Leary, 27, of Birmingham, England, who leaped over several neighboring fans to grab the keepsake. ''I couldn't believe my luck,'' O'Leary said. ''I'll treasure it.''

- Material from special correspondent Susie Woodhams and AP was used in this report.
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post #3936 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 2014, 12:11 PM
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Brick joke.

Monday, July 10, 1989
By Melissa Isaacson of the Sentinel Staff

Boris Becker and Steffi Graf were in the same tennis class and often practiced together as youngsters growing up in Leimen and Bruhl, respectively, towns just 6 miles apart. ''I'm the guy in the room who knows Steffi much longer than anybody,'' Becker said. ''I used to be the worst in the boys and she used to be the best in the girls, so when I was maybe nine and she was seven, I all the time had to hit with her. So, from then on we all the time went through the same tournaments and we all the time kept a relationship. . . . For her to win today and then me, I thought was just something. It may not ever happen again. Maybe. Hopefully. It depends more on me than on her.''


FOLLOWING HER victory Sunday, Graf acknowledged a stranger in the crowd below the family box, pointing at him and shouting, ''Who is that guy?'' Explained Graf: ''The guy was just screaming all the time, 'Come on,' after every single point. You could hear him from one end to the other. And that's why I wanted to know who it was.'' Later, a reporter asked Graf who it was that she waved to while she was crying after the match. ''Was it you father?'' the reporter asked. ''No, it was that guy,'' Graf said.


IT'S A good thing Becker wrapped up the title when he did. On a day when both the men's and women's matches were played consecutively because of rain the day before, rain came again - literally minutes after the men's final concluded. ''It came 10 minutes too late,'' said Stefan Edberg, who could have used a rain delay.


THE LAST time a man and woman from the same European country won the Wimbledon singles titles was in 1934, when Fred Perry and Dorothy Round from England. . . . Becker's first prize of $330,600 made him the sixth men's tennis player to surpass $5 million in career prize money. Graf received $298,070. . . . Dignitaries in the Royal Box included Rex Harrison and Kirk Douglas. . . . Becker clowned so much as he was parading around Centre Court with the President's Cup that he dropped the top off of it. . . . Graf's father, Peter, and her brother, Michael, were among those in the Becker section of the family box during the men's final. His manager, Ion Tiriac, and his girlfriend, Karen Schultz, sat with the regular folks. . . . Third-seeded John Fitzgerald and Anders Jarryd defeated top-seeded Rick Leach and Jim Pugh of the United States, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 in the doubles final. . . . Becker is the fifth player in the post-World War II era to win three or more men's titles. The others are Rod Laver (1961-62, 68-69), John Newcombe (67, 70-71), Bjorn Borg (1976-80) and John McEnroe (81, 83-84).
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post #3937 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 8th, 2014, 06:33 PM
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She's not an evil overlord. Once again, Steffi's tennis philosophy and goals are obviously quite different than Navratilova's, and so it makes no sense for Navratilova to try to "analyze" Steffi. There is as much discontinuity in their mental attitudes and approaches as there is in their tennis games.

Steffi Graf's Maturation Has Gone Beyond Tennis
July 16, 1989
The Washington Post

LONDON The emerging moods of Steffi Graf are somehow reassuring. She is as skittish as any other 20-year-old, with the startling exception that she possesses a Grand Slam and two Wimbledon titles. Masses of shagged blond hair fall in her face, and her hand shyly covers what little is left of it. She wears bulky sweaters and loafers. She is blunt, humorous, impatient.

Graf, about to enter her third year as the No. 1-ranked woman in tennis, has seen some of the world and it has seen some of her. Not much, maybe, but enough to suggest that the West German is not the blank-faced, ambitious machine she seemed to be in sweeping the Australian and French opens, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year. There are times, perhaps, when she does not live only for the pleasure of striking a tennis ball with the force of her whole body. She likes musicals and leather jackets, and she is having her first public romance.

At 20 Graf is no longer an ascending child star, but a rapidly maturing, well-established one who is grappling with the realization that life and tennis only will get more complicated. Her veneer of invincibility fell away at the French Open when 17-year-old Arantxa Sanchez Vicario upset her in the final, and Graf almost seemed appreciative, hugging her afterward. When she defeated second-ranked Martina Navratilova to defend her Wimbledon title in a difficult three-set match on Sunday, she alternately giggled and wept.

"You enjoy it even more than you did before," she said. "When you lose a couple of times, it makes you realize how difficult it is. There were times last year when I just didn't know how much I was winning, and how tough it was."

Graf's performance in the last three years has made everything look easy. She has made the finals in 10 straight Grand Slam events, and won six of them. Her massive baseline game, in particular the forehand that could fell a tree, has become recognized as the most significant occurrence in tennis since Chris Evert struck a two-handed backhand. The number and ease of Graf's victories are such that she already has said she can't see playing the game much beyond her twenties.

"I'd say I doubt it," she said.

The more she has won, the more there has been a demand to know who is behind this gigantic talent. But Graf can be extracted only in pieces, because she is deeply, reflexively private. For all of the speculation that at any moment she will establish residency in the principality of Monaco or Boca Raton, Fla., she continues to maintain a home in Bruhl, West Germany, with her parents, Peter and Heidi, who are intent on preserving semblances of normalcy.

She returned home to Bruhl after Wimbledon to pack for an extended vacation with her family. They are going to an island to be alone, and there will be no rallies or festivities in Bruhl. "There have been enough receptions for Steffi Graf," Bruhl's mayor said. "She is entitled to a little peace."

Now dating Alex Mronz, a fellow West German tennis player, Graf is struggling to reconcile her tennis ambitions with her disdain for public life. She retreats further the more personal questions become, and gets little enjoyment in being recognized. "You can't," she said. "I mean, you can't be free. Okay, some people enjoy it, but not me. It's too much. I avoid it. But I'm opening up a little bit more. I was shy before."

Graf's resentment of intrusion stems partly from the fact that her personal welfare is a topic of conversation wherever she goes. Doesn't she feel she is missing something? Isn't she playing too much tennis for her own good? How can she last much longer? "Oh come on," she finally snapped back during the French. "Is it really so serious?"

There apparently is little need for so much concern, because Graf is proving a durable champion, despite a weakness for colds and stomach ailments. At 5 feet 9 and 132 pounds, she has a trim, muscled build and speed that suggests she would have been top-ranked at whatever she tried. "She's a sprinter, a track and field athlete," Navratilova said.

But the amassing of Graf's record has gone beyond her physical gifts and into the realm of psychology. She is unyielding mentally, whether against the lowest-ranked player in the tournament or the highest. Every returned ball she views as a personal affront, and a match can seem utterly hopeless in view of her killer instinct. "Everybody has that feeling," Graf said. "But not everybody can bring it out."

Her coach, Pavel Slozil, has said her aim "is to satisfy the game." The combination of her cruel groundstrokes and impassive visage has indeed made it seem as though Graf seeks some heightened tennis experience, and would be just as happy if tennis were played in a vacuum. She recently was forced to explain that she does perceive her opponents as people, and not just faceless victims or scores. "They aren't just goals," she said. "They are individuals."

Graf lost just three matches last season, and has lost only two this year. There is one significant difference in her 1989 record, however: the failure to successfully defend her French title. That suggested she is as prey to a mishap or a bad day as the next player. Graf was worried and ill at the French; her father was missing much of the time because of a lung infection, and then she came down with a stomach disorder that weakened her.

When Sanchez Vicario won, it sent a ray of hope throughout women's tennis. It seemed that if you played junk to the backhand and gave her nothing solid to lay her forehand on, she could be frustrated and perhaps even beaten. It particularly seemed so to Navratilova, who lost the No. 1 ranking to Graf and had lost in four of the last six Grand Slam events she had entered.

"That's what happens when you have that aura of invincibility, which she's had for a couple of years," Navratilova said. "I had it before, and Chris had it before that. So much of it is built up, players go out on the court and think, 'I don't have a chance against her, I'll just try to win three games or whatever.' But then that player loses a couple of matches, and everybody starts walking around as if they can beat her too. And all that is mental. You haven't even hit a ball yet, but you're already approaching the match differently.

"Everybody's got a chink in their armor somewhere. For me, it came over a half a year's time. My losses first were physically related, but then even when I was fine, mentally I had lost that confidence. And everybody else started thinking they could beat me. So it was a snowball effect. Confidence is an incredible thing. It takes a long time to build it up, but you can shatter it overnight."

The secret vulnerability of a top-ranked player is perhaps the greatest threat to Graf's preeminence. So the victory at Wimbledon was particularly important to her; a loss would have thrown her series with Navratilova wide open again, and perhaps begun a widespread insurgency. As it is, she may be increasingly pursued by Navratilova, and 15-year-old Monica Seles and Sanchez Vicario are both fearless against her.

But Graf also seems to have a solid sense of her own position. She was relaxed and apparently immune to pressure or speculation that she could be beaten at Wimbledon. "I knew it myself and that is what is important, I think," she said. Moreover, Graf relishes the prospect of rising players; she seems prepared to maintain her dominance for at least a few more seasons.

"I know that everybody is coming up. It was the same way when I was 15 or 16. I'm not afraid of it."
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post #3938 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 8th, 2014, 08:45 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
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post #3939 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2014, 12:29 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Jaden is gonna be taller than his dad before the end of next year. Just crazy how quickly time has passed. Steffi and Andre look nice and presentable.

Loving Steffi's latest Facebook photo. Too bad it wasn't 6-0, coulda cracked better jokes.
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post #3940 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2014, 11:27 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

What do people like about Steffi the most?
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post #3941 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2014, 04:20 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Originally Posted by outlier View Post
What do people like about Steffi the most?
She just seems to be a natural exponent of Wu Wei or Slack or Panta Rhei or whatever you want to call it. And it was so much fun to watch her drive so many people to ruin just by being rational and what-you-see-is-what-you-get.
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post #3942 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2014, 04:29 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Her summer holiday continues. She is like a tourism board's or chamber of commerce's dream come true.

Nobody does it better Steffi Graf ranks as the reigning queen of her court
Evening Tribune
San Diego, CA
Saturday, July 29, 1989
John Freeman, Tribune Sportswriter

IN THE next week or so, if you happen to be at Sea World or the Zoo or the Wild Animal Park, you're likely to see a 5-8 athletic-looking blonde who answers, if reluctantly, to the nickname of Fraulein Forehand.

Graf has been spending her first visit to San Diego exploring the region's tourist haunts before her first match Tuesday night in the $200,000 Great American Bank Tennis Classic.

Yesterday, the world's best woman tennis player worked out at the San Diego Tennis & Racquet Club for about an hour with coach Pavel Slozil and then met with the media for a half-hour or so.

A few minutes later, she was on her way to a deep-sea fishing trip. As a nightcap, she had plans to attend a Rod Stewart concert at the Sports Arena, but it was postponed until tonight. She will be there.

"In Germany, it is not possible to walk around like I do here, and it's better here than L.A. There's not that much smog," she said. "I'd like to go to the mountains, to the beach, lots of places. Do you have any recommendations?"

Wherever the 20-year-old goes, she's unlikely to be mobbed by obsessive fans, her usual greeting when she visits her West German hometown of Bruhl for short periods. Some sports fans may recognize her here, but it's likely to be nothing more than a knowing nod, a friendly hello or a request for an autograph.

In Bruhl, an industrial city of some 200,000 [sic], she barely can venture beyond her home without drawing a throng of over-adoring fans. Graf, arguably the greatest woman player of all time, belongs to West Germany, as does countryman Boris Becker, Wimbledon's eins-zwei punch.

Graf's bond of fealty is with Deutschland, no matter what. Though she recently purchased another home in Boca Raton, Fla., she has no plans to move elsewhere to escape the pressures of fan adulation.

"No, I love Germany too much; I love everything about it," she said. "I don't want to be recognized as much as I am there, but I can't do anything about it. That's why I try and spend as much time as possible in the States. The last couple of months, things were not the best; there was too much going on. I feel much better now."

Along with Becker, Graf was feted in her native land a few days after their Wimbledon conquests and then, just as quickly as she scampers on-court from one point to the next, she was gone, to Spain for a two-week vacation.

"My father tried to keep everybody away as much as he could," said Graf. "It was nice to be home for a while, but the good thing was, I was leaving right away for Spain. So they couldn't catch me."

Is it difficult to live the life of Steffi Graf, undisputed champion of everything except this year's French Open, which broke her string of Grand Slam triumphs? Does she ever cry out for some measure of privacy?

"It's not the easiest job," she said with a smile. "It could be easier."

Nothing could be easier than her waltzes through the draw of any tournament she enters. Here, in the Great American Bank Tennis Classic, barring a stunning upset, she's most likely to breeze through to the finals. Her first-round match Tuesday is at 6:30 p.m. against a virtual unknown, a Canadian left-hander named Rene Simpson who isn't even listed in the main section of the tour's media guide.

"I don't know her too much," said Graf. "But she will be a good first round for me."

Yes, good and easy, as with virtually all of her matches.

At Wimbledon, like all Grand slam events a two-week grind, Graf barely was threatened with losing a set until the finals. That's when Martina Navratilova did break through, forcing their match to a third set. But Graf won anyway, defending her title for the second straight year.

In fact, in the last two years, Graf only has lost three matches -- at one point winning 46 straight matches last year.

Does winning so easily grow to be tiresome for Graf?

"It is not so easy," she insisted yesterday. "I don't think it ever was."

The facts speak differently. No longer are Martina and Chris Evert the game's undisputed queens. In the past year, Graf has sped past, leaving both in her wake.

Slozil, her coach for the last three years and a former world-class player himself, does not fear that complacency borne of winning will someday overtake Graf. But all this talk about Graf being the greatest player in history could take its toll, he says.

"Once you are a player and somebody says you are the greatest player ever, it could affect you badly," said Slozil. "But it doesn't affect her. She thinks only about tennis. Everything she does, she wants to do with, how you say, perfection. She is never satisfied with herself. She puts pressure on herself, and her level of practicing is better than anybody else.

"She only wants to be better and better."

How much better can we expect Graf will get in the coming years? According to Slozil, quite a bit better.

"Steffi is very special, you see," he said. "She goes all-out every practice. Nobody has to push her; you have to stop her. If she still has a special feeling inside, I won't worry, she will be No. 1 for many years. You cannot sleep; you have to work, get better and stronger. At the moment, I don't see anything that will distract her."

The only obstacle to Graf winning every tournament she enters has been tainted food -- just before the French Open, which caused her shocking loss to Spain's 17-year-old Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Otherwise, Graf would have tucked away her sixth straight Grand Slam title, and Wimbledon would have been her seventh straight.

"Nobody can touch her," says Slozil. "But she can lose matches, because she is a human being, no? Look at the French Open. She got sick from eating bad food. So you cannot control everything in her life."

Besides hitting constantly with Slozil, who serves as Graf's traveling practice partner, Graf tries to hit with as many top-ranked male pros as possible because she's so utterly dominant in her matches against females. Hitting with top-ranked males offers a rare learning tool.

"I always do," said Graf. "They serve much stronger, usually run better. You have to run much harder when you play men. And you lose more times. So you play better and better."

Slozil, an easygoing former Czech Davis Cup player, is careful in his remarks to make sure that Steffi's hard-driving father, Peter Graf, receives most of the credit for raising a champion.

"We are a good team," said Slozil. "We all play our roles. I'm doing my part. Peter comes into a city and he knows about her opponents. He's the boss; he is the coach. He is the closest to Steffi.

"He plays the main role and he deserves that because he's her father and he trained her and coached her for 15 years now. I don't want anyone ever to say that I said, 'Steffi is No. 1 because of me,' because she was already No. 3 when I started. Somebody did a good job before I came along. I just try to continue a good job."
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post #3943 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2014, 04:38 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Steffi Graf: Hmm, Renee Simpson for the first opponent. I don't know her too much. I haven't seen her play.

Statistics Maven: Steffi, you just double bagelled her in Australia in January.

Steffi Graf: Like I said, I haven't seen her play.

Rest in peace, Renee.

INCIDENTAL TOURIST : After Seeing Sights, Graf to Go to Work
July 29, 1989

SAN DIEGO They stood wide-eyed, clutching undersized rackets and waiting patiently for the woman who plays tennis better than the rest.

Steffi Graf, besieged by an staggering number of requests for her time, still gave some to eager young fans Friday morning at the San Diego Tennis & Racquet Club.

She smiled. She laughed. She posed for pictures.

Then the official tournament superstar quickly gathered her gear and was whisked away in an official tournament vehicle to another destination, another commitment, another demand.

"She'll be back at 3 this afternoon," said Graf's agent to no one in particular.

Graf is the top-seeded player and the top draw of the Great American Bank Tennis tournament, to run Monday through Aug. 6 at the San Diego Tennis & Racquet Club.

According to Phil de Picciotto, Graf's agent of nine years, he has received at least 40 requests for interviews, excluding press conferences such as the one she addressed Friday.

"I get over 1,000 requests a year," said de Picciotto. "I could easily have her calendar filled every day of the year."

Graf, 20, is about to enter her third year as the No.1-ranked player in the world. She arrived in San Diego from her second home in Boca Raton, Fla., Wednesday night. Here, she has been granted somewhat of a reprieve from the attention she receives in her native West Germany.

She is recognized, but she is not bombarded.

"(The recognition) is not as much as anywhere else," Graf said. "In Germany, for example, it's not possible to walk around like I do here. They do recognize me (here), but it's enjoyable."

This is Graf's first tournament appearance since she won Wimbledon three weeks ago. After a short vacation to Spain, Graf and her family returned to Bruhl, West Germany, for a few days before arriving in Florida.

Graf bypassed the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles--which starts Aug. 7 and includes Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Gabriela Sabatini--to play in this event.

"Everyone's been telling me (San Diego is) the best place," Graf said. "This is the first time I've been here. I was really looking forward to this. I like the mountains and the beach. It is much better than L.A. There's not the smog."

Her rigorous schedule has her practicing twice a day with her coach and practice partner, Pavel Slozil. Still, Graf is taking advantage of her first visit to San Diego.

"You don't usually get a chance to play in tournament's you've never played in before," Graf said. "This is different here. You want to see something new."

All her energies will be focused on tennis beginning with her first-round match against Canada's Renee Simpson Monday, but Graf is still allowing time for non-tennis interests.

"I'm going deep-sea fishing," she said. "And everyone's telling me to go to Sea World. I've been to the one in Miami, but they say the one here is much better. I'm sure I'll find a couple more things I can do. Do you recommend any others?"

Opponents would gladly send her on an all-expenses paid tour of the city, anything to keep her off the courts. Graf has appeared in 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals and won six of them.

But she doesn't keep count. There is no number of tournaments she hopes to win, no performance that marks the pinnacle of achievement. She strives, she says, simply to do more.

"I never set myself any goals," she said. "I'm always just trying to play the best I can. That's what I go for. That's my goal. I hope to reach it someday."

Graf said she is constantly challenging herself to reach new heights in her game. She insists she is never bored, just as her rise to this position was never easy.

"I don't think it's been too easy," she said. "I don't think it ever was. Even if opponents aren't that strong, you have to try to play better yourself. It's never boring."

Graf didn't welcome the suggestion that the tournament's draw isn't enough of a challenge.

"It's not such an easy tournament," she said. "There's Lori McNeil, Zina Garrison and Claudia Kohde-Kilsch. It's not like it's going to be that easy. It's a great tournament, especially with the U.S. Open coming up."

It has become standard procedure for Graf to rest a week after a tournament, giving her body and soul a chance to revive.

Said Graf: "I keep my adrenaline if I take one week off, play in another tournament, take a week off. I think this is the best preparation to have. It gets your mind away again, gets you ready for the next tournament. I think it's the best way to do it, for me anyway."

Graf said that while being Steffi "is not easy. I'm getting more and more used to it. It could be easier," she never had the chance to fold under the inevitable pressure of countrymen simultaneously winning Wimbledon (Boris Becker was the men's champion).

"It was a good thing I was leaving right away to Spain," she said. "They couldn't catch me really. My father tried to keep everyone away as much as he could."

Tennis Notes

Steffi Graf will play Renee Simpson of Ontario, Canada, Monday at 6:30 p.m. "She's an all-around player," Graf said. "I don't know her too much. I haven't seen her play." The winner of that match plays the winner of the Betsy Nagelsen/Dianne Van Rensburg match Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. . . . Qualifying rounds begin today at 11 a.m. to fill the four remaining spots on the main draw. These matches are free and open to the public. . . . Four San Diego players are entered in the main draw and begin play Monday. Wimbledon quarterfinalist Ros Fairbank of Rancho Bernardo, seeded eighth, meets Coronado's Angelica Gavaldon, at 15 the youngest player entered. Gavaldon is the two-time defending San Diego Section singles champion and is one of two wild-card entrants. Another Wimbledon quarterfinalist, San Diego's Gretchen Magers, meets Pascale Paradis of France and Robin White, currently of San Diego, meets third-seeded Susan Sloane of Lexington, Ky. . . . Rosie Casals, 41, of Sausalito, winner of nine Grand Slam events in doubles, is the other wild card player. . . . Zina Garrison of Houston, seeded second, meets Australia's Jenny Bryne. . . . Baltimore's Pam Shriver will play doubles only.
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post #3944 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2014, 09:20 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Originally Posted by Ms. Anthropic View Post
Jaden is gonna be taller than his dad before the end of next year. Just crazy how quickly time has passed. Steffi and Andre look nice and presentable.

Loving Steffi's latest Facebook photo. Too bad it wasn't 6-0, coulda cracked better jokes.
Probably this year, and he's not 13 yet!
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post #3945 of 5784 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2014, 03:22 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Daily News of Los Angeles
Monday, July 31, 1989
Daily News Wire Services

Sometimes, a fishing pole and a book are just as important to Steffi Graf as her tennis racket.

''I need time to get away from tennis," Graf said. "I like to read very much, listen to music or go to the cinema or fishing. It makes things easier."

Graf, who spent Friday deep-sea fishing off San Diego, returns to tournament play tonight for the first time since winning Wimbledon last month.

The top-ranked women's player and No. 1 seed in the $200,000 Great American Bank Tennis Classic in San Diego drew Renee Simpson as her opening- round opponent.

The 32-player field also includes Zina Garrison, Lori McNeil, Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, Susan Sloane, Patty Fendick and Nathalie Tauziat. The event is being held at the San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club.

After defeating Martina Navratilova for the Wimbledon crown on July 9, Graf took off for a week in Spain to try to escape the crush of attention.

She tacked on five days in Holland and a couple of days in her native West Germany visiting family before returning last week to the home she maintains in Boca Raton, Fla., and then catching a flight for San Diego.

"The last couple of months, things were not the best," she said. ''There was too much going on, too much responsibilities. I have some quiet now. I feel much better."

Spurs fans smiling about Robinson

San Antonio Spurs fans have gradually started smiling again.

The smirks started when San Antonio selected 7-foot-1 Navy center David Robinson with the first pick in the 1987 NBA draft. And they've grown wider as fans counted down Robinson's two-year Naval commitment.

They broke out in downright laughter last week when Robinson made his unofficial debut for the Spurs.

In the annual rookie-camp Black-Silver Game, Robinson had 31 points, 17 rebounds and 10 blocked shots against Spurs' rookies, free agents and younger players.

Whispered Spurs assistant coach Alvin Gentry: "He shocked all of us. Willie Anderson came over to me and said, 'Yeah, he blocked 10 shots, and six of them were mine.' "

A crowd of 4,000 in San Antonio roared its approval as Robinson went slam crazy, frequently dunking and blocking shots into players' bodies with such ferocity that they fell to the floor.

"He has been waiting a long time for this," Spurs coach Larry Brown said. "He's going to be great, there is no question in my mind. He is a special player."
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