An ominous harbinger of things to come in the blurb at the end...
YUGOSLAV GIVES YOUNG AMERICAN A QUICK FRENCH LESSON, 6-2, 6-2 MONICA SELES WAS RELENTLESSLY CONSISTENT. JENNIFER CAPRIATI WAS OUTCLASSED.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Wednesday, June 3, 1992
For Jennifer Capriati, the scenario was an all-too-familiar one, even at the age of 16.
In this French Open, she advanced to the quarterfinals, a performance in keeping with her ranking as the sixth-best women's tennis player in the world.
That far, but no further.
The end of the line for Capriati came late yesterday afternoon on Center Court at Roland Garros Stadium, at the hands of Monica Seles, the top seed and two-time defending champion.
It was not pretty. And it did not last long.
After a rain delay that consumed much of the day, Capriati, who later described herself as lacking in focus, came out and took the first two games. Then she lost the next six. In the second set, she did exactly the same thing. An hour was all it took, 6-2, 6-2.
Compared with the relentlessly consistent Seles, the young Floridian looked outclassed. She made numerous unforced errors and committed five double- faults. At times, she played as if she were eager to be done with it.
When it was over, she rejected any suggestion that her development as a player has stalled, or that she is moving in the wrong direction. The devastation, though, showed in her face.
"I just felt everything was heavy and slow out there," she said, referring to the dampness, "including me, the way I moved. . . .
"I'm pretty disappointed. I know that I could beat her. I have beaten her before. But to lose without giving her a real battle, it's hard to take."
Seles, with her victory, led the march of the four top seeds into the women's semifinals tomorrow.
The 18-year-old Yugoslav will meet third-ranked Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, who made a remarkable recovery to salvage victory yesterday against Conchita Martinez of Spain. In the other semifinal, fourth-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain is paired against second-ranked Steffi Graf of Germany, who got a scare from Natalia Zvereva.
In a men's quarterfinal, Jim Courier of the United States lost his first set of the tournament, to Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia, but led by two sets to one when the slugfest between two of the game's biggest hitters was suspended by darkness.
"Pretty dark out here, eh, Goran?" the defending champion muttered loudly enough for everyone in the stadium to hear, giving officials a not-so-gentle hint that quitting time had arrived. A few minutes later, when Ivanisevic took the third set, the officials yielded to Courier's judgment.
Courier, who leads by 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, has won 20 consecutive matches this year and 12 straight in Grand Slam events. This helps explain why he is rated No. 1 on the computer.
The Courier-Ivanisevic match, and the three other men's quarterfinals, will be completed today, rain gods permitting.
Among the advancing women, Sabatini had the most difficult time of it. For a while, she looked like a goner.
At the outset of her match, on a cool, breezy, cloudy morning, the young Argentinian seemed unhappy with the balls, the court, herself and her opponent, not to mention the weather. In no time, she had dropped the first set, 6-3, and was down in the second, 3-0. Martinez was in complete control.
So what happened? Sabatini won the next nine games, taking the second set by 6-3 and giving herself a 3-0 lead in set three. And from there, she rolled to victory, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Both women had explanations, of sorts, for what so altered the contest in the middle of the second set.
"Gabriela totally changed her tactics," Martinez said later. "She became much more aggressive, and I didn't react well. I played more passive."
"I decided to try to move her around more, to attack," Sabatini agreed. ''I was angry at myself. I wasn't doing anything."
The match ended in a cold, steady rain, which Martinez hoped would save her. But the officials declared that play should continue, and the Spaniard slipped and slid out of the tournament.
Graf, for her part, also had a tough day, although she never seemed in real danger of losing. Her problem was more a matter of putting away her opponent.
She won the first set routinely, 6-3, and was leading by 5-3 in the second when, by her own assessment, she got impatient, tried to finish off points too quickly and let Zvereva force a tie-break, which the Belarussian won.
The third set featured more of the same. Graf jumped ahead by 4-0 and had several chances, on her serve, to make it 5-0. But she let her unseeded rival off the hook once more. Zvereva rallied to 4-3, and was serving to tie the match when she made a few bad shots and handed the initiative back to Graf. The score line read, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3.
"I wish I would have played better," said Graf. "It made me a little bit crazy, the way I served. But I won the match, so it's not too serious."
With her victory, Graf builds on a remarkable record of consistency. In the 94 tournaments she has played since October 1985, she has reached the semifinals 90 times.
What was her verdict on everyone's favorite subject, the rain? "You get wet, you get cold, you don't feel very good on the court," she said.
The rain, which has interrupted this tournament repeatedly, has come at a time when concern about a drought, allegedly one of historic proportions, is deepening across France and over much of Europe.
So the rain here is good news, unless you are trying to run a Grand Slam tennis tournament, or watch one, or play in it.
An unidentified fan of Steffi Graf stood in the pouring rain for three hours outside a hospitality tent Sunday, hoping to recite a love poem he'd written in German. "She's the love of my life, and I'll do anything to get near her," he said. "Even if it means going to prison." Steffi was unmoved, and left through a side entrance while security guards escorted her unhappy admirer to the exit.