Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2 - Page 417 -
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post #6241 of 6247 (permalink) Old May 11th, 2016, 10:27 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Charlotte Observer
May 11, 1996
VICTOR SIMPSON, Associated Press

ROME -- Steffi Graf was eliminated from the Italian Open yesterday by talented 15-year-old Martina Hingis, touted as a possible successor some day Graf as the world's No. 1 woman player.

Hingis won the quarterfinal match 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, sending Graf to her first tournament loss in seven months and her first on clay since the 1994 French Open.

''I don't know what happened out there,'' said Graf after a frustrating afternoon marked by error and indecision.

Another upset victim was No. 3 seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who fell to No. 7 Irina Spirlea of Romania 6-4, 6-3. Spirlea will meet Hingis in one of today's semifinals. In the other, No. 2 seed Conchita Martinez, seeking a record fourth consecutive Italian title, will face No. 4 Iva Majoli, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Nathalie Tauziat in a night match.

MARTINEZ NEEDED three sets to get by No. 5 Magdalena Maleeva 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 for the Spaniard's 18th straight win on the Foro Italico courts.

The 26-year-old Graf is coming back from foot surgery and has played only two tournaments this year, winning both on cement. But she looked sharp against the sixth-seeded Swiss in the first set, needing only 30 minutes to nail it down.

Then she began a steady drift into backhand errors and found her famed forehand was neither powerful nor accurate enough to bail her out in the rallies. ''I just never found the patience to go for the right shots,'' said Graf, who blamed a lack of preparation on the slow surface. ''I've lost a lot of confidence here.''

Graf suffered her first tournament loss since falling to Mariaan De Swardt in Brighton in October, 1995. She also lost in the Federation Cup to Japan's Kimiko Date last month.

To her credit, Hingis did not give anything away to the German, keeping the ball in play with deep strokes from the baseline.

''I just beat the world's No. 1, I can't describe the feeling,'' said Hingis, who's ranked 20th. ''I was lucky I played a great game today.''

LONG LOOKED at as a future star of the game, Hingis played with an impressive maturity, keeping the ball to Graf's backhand and was unafraid to go the net on occasion.

''Even after the first set, I thought I had a chance,'' said the youngster.

She also kept her temper in check, which has been a problem for the youngster. ''Better than the other times, there were no broken rackets,'' she joked.

Graf, who won her first of 18 Grand Slam titles when she was 17, was asked about Hingis as a possible No. 1. ''She has a lot of potential. It's a matter of what she does the next few years,'' the German replied.

Graf said she will not play next week in Berlin's clay court tournament, opting instead to rest ahead of the French Open later this month.


Pete Sampras and No. 4 Michael Chang have withdrawn from next week's Italian Open clay-court tennis tournament, organizers reported yesterday.

Sampras said he would not play at the major warmup for the French Open -- the lone Grand Slam he hasn't won -- because of the death last week of Tim Gullikson, his coach and close friend. "This has been a very emotional and difficult time for me and Tim's family," Sampras said. "I don't feel that I am mentally or physically prepared to give my best effort in such an important event." Gullikson died of brain cancer at the age of 44.

Chang, a semifinalist at the Foro Italico in 1995, cited a chest muscle tear. He lost at Monte Carlo last month in his opening match.
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post #6242 of 6247 (permalink) Old May 11th, 2016, 10:29 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf leaves Rome at odds with her game and herself
May 11, 1996
Reuter Information Service

ROME - Steffi Graf had returned to Rome after a nine-year absence in triumphant fashion, dressed to impress in the Eternal City with the style of her designer clothes and the quality of her tennis.

On Friday she left in jeans and a T-shirt, unrecognisable as the world's number one player and seemingly at odds with herself and her game.

"I've felt insecure on court all week," said Graf, after her three-set upset defeat by 15-year-old Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open.

"I had no confidence in any of my strokes, I had no rhythm, I guess you could say I've lost a little confidence here."

Graf had failed to return to Rome since 1987 because Italian newspapers called her "La Brutta" ("Ugly"). Nine years later, fans at the Foro Italico were using the same word to describe her tennis.

The 26-year-old German, playing her first tournament of the season on clay, has struggled all week to adapt her game to the slow surface.

The flow of unforced forehand errors largely to blame for her defeat to Hingis confirmed the German will have to improve her game vastly if she hopes to successfully defend her title at Roland Garros in three weeks.

"I must work on my physique. I've got to get myself in better shape," she admitted, adding she had gone into the Italian Open with just five hours [sic] practice on clay behind her.

But Graf came closer to the truth when she spoke of her need to relax; the strain of coping with her father Peter's arrest in Germany on tax fraud charges may be starting to take their toll on the world number one's confidence.

In the third and decisive set, when Graf's greater experience should have told, it was the German rather than the teenager Hingis who played like a novice.

"I need to relax a little. Before Paris, I'm going to take a few days rest. I definitely won't be playing in Berlin," she said.

Graf's defeat was all the more painful because it came against a player who looks set on emulating her own teenage feats.

Graf was only 13 years old when she was first ranked on the women's tour and, like Hingis, once specialized in knocking older stars off their pedestal.

"I'll guess I'll have to get used to seeing myself as an old player," said Graf, "but don't think I was afraid of her because she was young."
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post #6243 of 6247 (permalink) Old May 11th, 2016, 10:30 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf beaten on clay by Hingis - Tennis
The Independent
London, England
May 11, 1996

Martina Hingis gave the world No 1, Steffi Graf, her first defeat on clay in almost two years yesterday when she beat the German in the quarter- finals of the Italian Open in Rome.

The 15-year-old Swiss sixth seed demonstrated why she is tipped as a future champion, recovering from the loss of the first set to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 for the best victory of her short career.

"I've just beaten the world No 1," an ecstatic Hingis, ranked 20 in the world, said. "It feels great."

For Graf, unbeaten in tournaments this year and winner of three of last year's four grand slams, it was the first defeat on clay since she lost to Mary Pierce in the French Open semi-finals two years ago.

The 26-year-old German, playing her first tournament of the season on clay, has struggled all week to adapt her game to the slow Foro Italico surface. A flow of unforced forehand errors was largely to blame for her defeat by Hingis.

"I've got to get physically in shape for Paris," Graf said, adding that she would not be ask for a wild-card entry for next week's Berlin Open. "I'll take some days off, try to relax a bit," she said.

In the first set Graf appeared to have ironed out the problems she had shown in earlier rounds. Three of the first four games went to deuce but, at 2-2, the German turned on the power, breaking serve twice to take the next four games and the set.

At the start of the second set, however, Hingis started showing the talent which made her the youngest-ever quarter-finalist at the Australian Open in January.

Mixing her game by coming up to the net and surprising her opponent with neat drop shots, Hingis broke Graf's service three times to level at one set each. Refusing to be overawed by an opponent 11 years her senior and due to set a record of 332 total weeks as world No 1 next week, Hingis broke serve in the fourth game of the final set to take a 3-1 lead.

Graf broke back, but the crisis was not over as the German's erratic groundstrokes gave Hingis three break-points in the eighth game.

Two were saved but on the third the German served a double fault to go 5-3 down. Five points later it was all over.

"It was a great chance for me to beat her because she hasn't been playing that many tournaments lately," said Hingis, ''but I haven't won anything, I've just reached the semi-finals."

[] Pete Sampras, the world No 1, has withdrawn from next week's Italian Open following the death of his coach and close friend Tim Gullikson. Michael Chang has also pulled out because of an injury.
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post #6244 of 6247 (permalink) Old May 11th, 2016, 10:31 PM
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Hingis offers glimpse into the future - Tennis
The Times
London, England
May 11, 1996

MARTINA HINGIS has long looked the heir apparent to Steffi Graf and Monica Seles as the world's top women's tennis player, but few expected her to begin to challenge them just yet. She is, after all, just 15 years old. Yesterday, however, Hingis gave everybody -- Graf, in particular -- a taste of things to come.

On the red clay of the Foro Italico in Rome, the home of the Italian Open, Hingis, from Switzerland, beat the German joint-world No1 for the first time, handing Graf her first defeat on clay for nearly two years. Hingis's 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 quarter-final win was as unexpected as it was ultimately convincing.

''I just beat the world's No1, I can't describe the feeling," Hingis, the world No20, said, barely containing her euphoria. ''I was lucky I played a great game today."

Graf, the winner of three of the four grand slam tournaments last year and previously unbeaten in tournaments in 1996, was clearly concerned. ''I thought I'd catch up, but I didn't," she said. ''I never found the patience or the rhythm to go for the shots. Instead of making more and more points, I made more and more errors. Obviously, my concentration was lacking. On some points, I was on; on some points, I was off. Right now, I have no idea what was going on out there."
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post #6245 of 6247 (permalink) Old May 13th, 2016, 01:52 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Clever Hingis climbs to final
Bud Collins in Rome
The Independent on Sunday
May 12, 1996

A modern-day version of the storybook heroine from Switzerland has shown up at the venerable, pine-ringed Foro Italico, wearing plimsolls and swinging a potent club. She is the tender-looking but terrifying Martina Hingis, the slight 15-year-old who hasswooped into the finals of the Italian Open over the startled No 1, Steffi Graf, and the Romanian six-footer Irina Spirlea.

Because this newly proclaimed Swiss Heidi of the Hills of Rome is a millionairess, she has no need to milk goats or do other rural alpine chores described in Johanna Spyri's 19th-century novel. But she made Graf feel like the goat of a sunny quarter-finals in a 2-6 6-2 6-3 victory over a woman who was a teen sensation herself in winning this title at 17 in 1987.

Flamed by a grey and gloomy floodlit setting yesterday, Hingis won the last four games of the opening set and came from 3-4 and a break down in the second, to beat Spirlea, the world No 18, 6-4 7-5. In a soggy, Scottish-misted encounter, Hingis' cleverness - eight points on drop shots - overcame Spirlea's thundering forehand even though the 22-year-old Romanian, conqueror of Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the quarter-finals, rescued two match points to 5-5.

Hingis got under cover in little over an hour and now faces the champion Conchita Martinez in today's final. The Spaniard beat Croatia's Iva Majoli 6-4 6-7 6-2. Martinez, the moody Spaniard and champion of Wimbledon two years ago, is aiming for a fourth consecutive Italian prize, eclipsing Margaret Court (1962-64) and Chris Evert (1980-82).

Hingis is no mystery child, of course. Having entered the WTA computer at No 399 towards the end of 1994, she has climbed steadily to No 20. But nobody expected her suddenly to sprint to the crest of the Matterhorn and plant the White Cross of Switzerland for all to see. It was merely the fourth loss in 17 months for Graf, who today will break the record of Hingis' namesake, Martina Navratilova, by appearing at No 1 for a 132nd week.

Although Graf, suffering the biggest upset in the Foro since 1988 when 17-year-old Gabriela Sabatini upended then No 1 Navratilova in the semis, was sluggish, Hingis responded to the chances presented. "I didn't have a clue out there today," Graf said. "I didn't move well or do anything to control her."

Hingis was overjoyed with beating Graf. "I didn't expect to win. I thought I'd be sightseeing over the weekend," Hingis, who is on her first trip to Rome, added. "But maybe it's better to keep playing, and to see the Colosseum and the other old things some other time."

Graf was overrun by Hingis. "She is so thoughtful, has a feel, has an idea of the game that many much older players don't - maybe more than any of them have," Graf said.

Hingis, unlike recent previous huge-hitting prodigies such as Jennifer Capriati, understands how to create a point, move the ball hither and yond, change speed, sneak in for volleys, and place her mild serve in unexpected places. She is smart where others rely on smoke, will get stronger, and does not endanger her 115-pound physique by overhitting. Like the original Heidi, she has the legs for climbing to a higher station.
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post #6246 of 6247 (permalink) Old May 13th, 2016, 01:53 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

That was a quick reversal...

Tennis: Wilander gains US Clay Court final
The Boston Globe
May 12, 1996
from combined dispatches

Mats Wilander and Fernando Meligeni reached the final of the US men's Clay Court Championships yesterday in Pinehurst, N.C. Wilander beat Javier Frana, 6-3, 6-3, and Meligeni got past Jason Stoltenberg, 2-6, 6-0, 6-4 . . . No. 1-ranked Steffi Graf, who was upset Friday in the Italian Open by Swiss teen-ager Martina Hingis, has decided to play in the German Open women's tournament in Berlin this week. After losing to Hingis, Graf had said she would not play in the event. Tournament organizer Eberhard Wensky said Graf had been persuaded by friends that it would be a good idea to play in Berlin in preparation for the French Open . . . Unseeded Spaniards Roberto Carretero and Alex Corretja will play for the German Open title today at Hamburg. Carretero, a 20-year-old qualifier, ousted third-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 7-5, 6-2, and Corretja ousted fifth-seeded Marcelo Rios, 6-4, 6-4.
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post #6247 of 6247 (permalink) Old May 13th, 2016, 02:17 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2


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