Interesting that Steffi very much fancied her chances versus Mary ("I'm looking forward to playing her..." and said with a smile
) and expected a more difficult match versus Arantxa.
Graf strikes a Piercing blow -- German 'happy' to avenge defeat at Paris Open
The Toronto Star
Sunday, August 21, 1994
MONTREAL - Steffi Graf said revenge had nothing to do with it.
Graf was so delighted with her defeat of Mary Pierce in the Canadian Open semifinals, the normally reserved German actually skipped to the net (just two steps, though) to shake hands with the woman who had shocked her at the French Open.
"For a lot of reasons, I was happy that I won (yesterday)," said a thoroughly pleased Graf, who eliminated Pierce 6-3, 6-4 and faces Spain's Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in today's championship final.
"But this doesn't really have a lot to do with looking back at Paris. I'm really happy with the way I'm playing. I thought we had a really good match. We were really going for it and it was tough to hang in."
In the other semifinal, the second-seeded Sanchez Vicario rallied after an hour-long rain delay between the first and second sets to defeat Japan's Kimiko Date, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Graf, the defending champion, and Sanchez Vicario, the 1992 winner, begin play at 1 p.m. in the $750,000 (U.S.) event, which is also known as the Matinee Ltd. International. The victor collects $150,000 while the runner-up earns $60,000.
The Graf-Pierce showdown was the day's highlight as the eagerly anticipated rematch of the French Open semifinal did not disappoint the nearly 8,000 gathered at Jarry Tennis Stadium.
Everyone was well aware that Graf wanted to remind the 19-year-old French woman who the world's No. 1 ranked player is. Meanwhile, Pierce, born in Montreal and the crowd darling this week, was determined to prove her victory in Paris was no fluke.
It was an intriguing match from the start when the two strong women traded blasts from the baseline in a series of extended and aggressive rallies.
Pierce dipped deep into the same bag of tricks that helped her oust Graf 6-2, 6-2 at Roland Garros and mixed the heavy, deep hitting with moonballs, drop shots and touch volleys to keep Graf off balance.
Pierce had better success with her strategy at the beginning of the second set when she jumped to a 3-0 lead. But Graf, who works the court better than anyone, began pressuring Pierce and broke her in the key fifth game to close the gap to 3-2 after going to deuce seven times.
Pierce began to make her own unforced errors and, saying later that she was "tired," she requested a five-minute bathroom break before the sixth game. Graf was unhappy at the break, since she was to serve next, and trotted off to the locker room as well to change her shirt.
"I had to serve and I wasn't sure how I was going to do after the break. I was a little nervous but it worked out well," said Graf, who won 12 of 13 points immediately after.
Pierce, ranked fifth in the world, said she had no regrets at not repeating a victory over Graf.
"It's lots of fun for me to play against Steffi," Pierce said. "I know we'll both go out there and attack and be aggressive.
"But this time, I tried to do everything I could against her. I just got a little bit tired and it's awfully tough to beat Steffi on hard courts."'
Still, she said she'll leave Montreal with a fond memory. Pierce left Montreal as a 5-month-old with her French mother and American father.
"My best memory is of having the crowd cheering for me just like I was a hometown girl," Pierce said.
Against Sanchez, Graf said she expects a more difficult match today than in the 6-2, 6-1 drubbing she gave her in the San Diego final two weeks ago.
"We've had lots of matches, lots of close ones," said Graf, who leads 24-6 in head-to-head career matches.
The CTV color crew of Don Fontana and Virginia Wade received a scare a few minutes to airtime yesterday. Part of the ceiling fell on the pair and the production crew in the TV booth. Everyone was shaken up for a few seconds but no one was hurt.