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post #481 of 648 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 2013, 07:09 PM
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Re: 1992

Saturday, January 18, 1992

Not yet 16, Jennifer Capriati has a proud history of representing the United States on the tennis court.

The Wightman Cup at 13, the youngest competitor ever. The Continental Cup. Two Federation Cups.

And now, this summer in Barcelona, the ultimate dream: the Olympics.

''It's a great feeling to be on the Olympic team,'' Capriati said Friday from Melbourne, where she is playing in the Australian Open .

''I've always loved playing for the U.S. and what better chance can you get than the Olympics.''

Capriati, who grew up in Lauderhill, was nominated by the United States Tennis Association to the U.S. Olympic tennis team with Mary Joe Fernandez of Miami, Zina Garrison and Gigi Fernandez.

Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and Michael Chang were nominated to the men's team. Nominations must be approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Tennis Federation.

Players were chosen on the basis of ranking, with Federation/Davis Cup service in 1991 as a required criteria. Capriati is ranked No. 6, the second- highest American after No. 4 Martina Navratilova, who did not play Fed Cup in Nottingham, England last year.

''Everyone said I would be on the team, but you never know,'' Capriati said. ''When Marty Riessen (the American coach) called with the news, I was real excited.''

Capriati and Mary Joe Fernandez, who is ranked No. 7, will play singles at the Olympics, as they did during the Federation Cup. Garrison will likely play singles and doubles with Gigi Fernandez, her Federation Cup partner.

The men's team of Courier (2), Sampras (6) and Chang (16) provoked some controversy because sentimental star John McEnroe was left off.

McEnroe, who plans to retire this year, wanted to play in the Olympics, in singles as well as doubles. But McEnroe's No. 28 ranking put him behind four players for the third berth -- Andre Agassi, Derrick Rostagno, David Wheaton and Chang.

Agassi and Rostagno did not want to play, but Wheaton, who did not play Davis Cup, and Chang asked to be considered. Chang won the 1989 French Open on red clay, the Olympic surface.

Courier, who wanted to play doubles in the Olympics with McEnroe, criticized the USTA for dragging its feet on the selections.

''I talked to John about it, but (USTA officials) wouldn't commit,'' Courier said. ''John had to make his plans for the summer because of his family, and he couldn't wait any longer.''
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post #482 of 648 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 2013, 07:17 PM
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Re: 1992

And everyone always said Graf was never involved with tour governance... Let us not forget the other players who played in that exhibition: Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Conchita Martinez, Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere, Helena Sukova, Leila Meskhi, Helen Kelesi, and Judith Wiesner.

Seles-Capriati final would be thrill
The Toronto Star
Saturday, January 18, 1992
Nora McCabe

Well before a nasty virus forced second-seeded Steffi Graf to withdraw from the $4.7 million Australian Open, the smart money was betting on top-ranked Monica Seles to defend her Aussie title - the first of the three Grand Slam crowns the Yugoslav teen won last year, the year in which she also deposed Graf as world champion and world No. 1.

The virus that waylaid her is particularly bad news for Graf. You see, she only trails Seles, who must defend the ranking points she earned by winning a total of 10 tournaments, by a mere 57 points. Having lost in the quarterfinals to Czechoslovak Jana Novotna last year, the points-heavy Australian represented Graf's best chance to make a big gain on Seles who even if she wins only holds her ground.

The real winner, however, is undoubtedly Jennifer Capriati, the No. 5 seed who was drawn in the same side of the women's singles draw as Graf and the third-seeded Gabriela Sabatini.

Capriati, who will not turn 16 until March 29 but nevertheless reached the semifinals of both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, has never beaten Graf. But with victories over Sabatini at last summer's Canadian Open, which she went on to win, and in a strikingly convincing 6-3, 7-6 victory in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, the fresh-faced American is, for my money, the player most likely to topple Seles from the top of the rankings.

The Florida power-hitter makes her Down Under debut armed with two new weapons: contact lenses and Graf's discarded coach Pavel Slozil.

While observing what strategic pearls of wisdom Slozil might have imparted to his new charge would have been fascinating, it will be equally intriguing to see what happens if the more tour-smart Capriati gets past her potential quarterfinal date with Gaby and reaches her first Grand Slam final . . . and Seles.

On past history, a Seles-Capriati final would be dynamite. Capriati did beat Seles once last year, to win the San Diego tournament, the week before she won in Toronto.

The two next met in the U.S. semis in a seismic, some would even say seminal, slugfest. Capriati twice served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 of the third set. Inexperience (she made the fatal error of thinking she'd won the match in the changeover before the ninth game) cost Capriati victory. And that said, Seles still needed every ounce of bravery she had to pull out 7-6 (7-3) in the final set.

So riveting was their duel that no one left the stadium before the match was over. A repeat, should it happen, would start 1992 off with a terrific bang, no matter who won.

Tough stance: Wonders will never cease!

Last fall, when Seles backed out of a third tour event - this time to play a well-paying exhibition in the Canary Islands - a miffed Graf, who'd been hoping to play her nemesis in that tournament, called on the Women's Tennis Association to get tough. The fine for playing in an exhibition or special event in conflict with an official tournament is a maximum $10,000, but Graf wanted that raised from the 1991 figure.

"I think another zero should be added," said the Wimbledon champion, who shuns most exhibitions because she doesn't need the money. "If the fine was $100,000 everyone would think about it."

Lo and behold, the WTA, never before known for its moral backbone, heeded Graf's words. Accordingly, the top four ranked women who violate the Kraft Tour "exhibition rule" will indeed be fined $100,000. And fines for Nos. 5-8 will also increase five-fold - to $50,000.

In her typical, don't-bother-to-think-before-you-speak fashion, Seles calls the fine increase "the right move," then blithely adds, "I have decreased the number of exhibitions I will play this year to keep my schedule balanced."

If rumor is right, one of those specials Seles will play will be the 1992 remake of the Battle of the Sexes, the famous match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King that King won.

Seles' male opponent in the $1 million match will be 39-year-old Jimmy Connors. Seles insists its not just the money - $1 million to the winner; $100,000 to the loser - that interests her. "I'd like to play someone who grunts as much as I do," she quipped. "Besides, I'm tired of playing girls."

Loudmouth award: Esquire magazine has given one of its 1991 Dubious Achievement Awards to Andre Agassi. The Las Vegas loudmouth earned the (dis)honor for a remark he made when reporters asked how he felt about reaching the final of the French Open for the second straight year. Answered Agassi, who is shown looking in a mirror as he blow dries his bleached blond hair: "I don't want you to think I'm not happy about this. I'm as happy as a ****** in a submarine."

Singles spot open: With Canadian Davis Cup coach Pierre Lamarche already having picked hometown hero Grant Connell to play No. 1 singles and Connell and Michibata teamed to play doubles in the Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 Canada-Sweden Davis Cup world group tie that will be played in Vancouver, competition for the second singles spot is keen.

The top three candidates are veterans Chris Pridham of Oakville and Martin Laurendeau of Montreal and 19-year-old Torontonian Daniel Nestor, who just returned from Melbourne, where he qualified (but lost in the first round) for the Australian Open.
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post #483 of 648 (permalink) Old Mar 6th, 2013, 07:34 PM
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Re: 1992

The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday, January 19, 1992
Marla Ridenour

Jana Novotna's tennis career wasn't inspired by older Czechoslovakian greats.

"I don't think I had any idol that I looked up to and said, 'Hey, I want to be like Lendl or Navratilova,' " said Novotna, 23.

But she attributes much of her success to another Czech forerunner.

Since Hana Mandlikova became Novotna's coach in 1990, Novotna has jumped 39 spots in the world computer rankings. In their first year together, she climbed 35 places.

Novotna, who ended 1991 ranked No. 7 and currently is No. 8, is one of four women who will compete Feb. 6-8 in the second Big Bear Challenge in the Celeste Center at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Joining her for two days of tennis will be Martina Navratilova, Jennifer Capriati and Zina Garrison. At stake is a purse of $500,000.

After reaching the finals of the Australian Open in singles and doubles and winning two other tournaments, Novotna calls 1991 her best season.

"It happened when I started to be coached by Hana Mandlikova," Novotna said last week by telephone from Melbourne, Australia. "I think she made the big changearound. She showed me the professional way of a tennis player, and that helped me a lot.

"She taught me to be a fully professional tennis player, not only on the court, but off the tennis court, which I had never done before. She improved me in all ways."

Mandlikova was an aggressive player, but Novotna said she hasn't tried to copy her.

"She has a different personality than I do," Novotna said. "But I need somebody behind me who can push me. A little bit of her aggressiveness helped me a lot in this."

Asked what style of tennis fans would see at the Big Bear Challenge, Novotna described her play (on a good day) as "great serve, very aggressive tennis, not too much staying at the baseline but trying to come in and some very good volleys. Very attacking tennis."

Despite her climb up the tennis charts, Novotna does not have her eye on No. 1.

"I still have to improve in many ways," she said. "When I get to the top five, I might think about a No. 3 place, and when I'm there I can think about No. 1. I don't think it's possible for me to think about it from No. 8, or whatever I am now. From No. 8 to No. 1, that would be a much bigger step."

Last January in Australia was a major turning point for Novotna. She won the New South Wales Open in Sydney, then met Monica Seles for the Australian Open title. It was the first Grand Slam singles final for Novotna, whose previous best was the French Open semifinals in 1990.

"I never really made a breakthrough and it finally happened in Australia," she said. "It didn't happen suddenly, like I had a good three weeks. I'd been working hard for so long, and I finally made the step."

Now Novotna is determined to erase the notion that she's just a doubles player. Novotna has won four Grand Slam doubles titles with Helena Sukova, and 13 other doubles crowns with Sukova, Gigi Fernandez or Mary Joe Fernandez, and two Grand Slam mixed doubles with Jim Pugh.

"I do enjoy playing doubles and I've been No. 1 for some time," Novotna said. "I consider playing doubles great fun and something I enjoy so much."

Asked if it has overshadowed her singles career, Novotna said, "Maybe in the past it was like that. I was recognized more as a doubles player than a singles player. I always wanted to change that so badly, and that finally happened last year when I played the final down here in Australia."

Novotna will be making her first trip to Ohio and is looking forward to facing Capriati, whom she had never played going into the Australian Open.

"It will be the first time and I'm quite curious," Novotna said of the American teen-age sensation.

Novotna predicts that Columbus patrons will see top-notch tennis.

"People can expect even better tennis than in a tournament because sometimes the nervousness can affect your game," she said. "This way you can play your best tennis. It's better for the people. They can see a much higher level of tennis. There's less pressure, but you still want to play your best and win."
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Re: 1992

Seles shakes off scrappy Meski - Novotna falls in Australian Open
Austin American-Statesman
Sunday, January 19, 1992
Steve Wilstein, AP

MELBOURNE, Australia - Defending champion Monica Seles survived her first taste of pressure at the Australian Open, but her victim in last year's final, Jana Novotna, fell amid a flurry of double faults against teen-ager Anke Huber.

Seles overcame an unusually high number of errors, 52, and seemed surprised by the net-attacking strategy of Leila Meskhi. But Seles recovered her poise to break Meskhi three times in the final set and reach the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory.

"I wasn't going for my shots, I wasn't attacking, and I wasn't pumped up," Seles said. "I was serving pretty well in the first set and early in the second. It sort of went. I don't know what happened. It was pretty windy."

Seles said she'd have to put the match out of her mind when she plays Huber, a German who also is 18. Seles beat Huber in the quarters last year.

Novotna, who blew her first opportunity to beat Huber while serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, saw her chances vanish when she served with a 4-2 lead in the third set. Novotna double-faulted three times and lost the last five games to give Huber a 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory.

"I play better under pressure," Huber said. "The third set she was injured a bit. She had cramps."

Huber said there's no pressure on her in playing Seles, who beat her easily last year.

Seles served poorly in the second set as the 13th-seeded Meskhi sent forehands deep to Seles' backhand, then came in to put volleys away at the net. Meskhi broke Seles at love for a 5-3 lead in the second set, and again at 15-40 in the 10th game as Seles made four unforced errors.

It was the first set Seles lost in four matches, and she responded by bearing down harder, grunting louder and hitting deeper, more accurate groundstrokes.

Seles broke Meskhi in her first two service games of the third set for a 3-0 lead, holding her own service in between with her seventh ace on game-point. Though broken at love in the fourth game, Seles won the last three games of the match to close it out. Even the final game, though, did not come easily, as Seles double-faulted on her first match point at 40-30 and fought off a break point before winning at last on a backhand return long by Meskhi.

"I changed my tactics," Meskhi said. "I played more at the net today, and I think this surprised her. You have to move her around and come to the net if you want to beat her."

In another early match today, 15th-seeded David Wheaton lost to Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Also, Amy Frazier beat Dominique Monami of Belgium 6-3, 6-4.

No. 2 seed Jim Courier, who hit nearly every shot full tilt, reached the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 romp Saturday over Thomas Muster.

Michael Chang, who had an 11-2 record in five-set matches, including a grueling fourth-round showdown against Ivan Lendl en route to the 1989 French Open title, fell in a three-hour, see-saw battle to Richard Krajicek 6-4, 6-1, 5-7, 1-6, 6-3.

Two women's seeds, No. 2 Gabriela Sabatini and No. 5 Jennifer Capriati, together spent half as much time as Krajicek in advancing to the fourth round.

Sabatini was on court just over an hour as she beat Australia's Jenny Byrne 6-1, 6-0. Capriati needed only 35 minutes to overwhelm fellow American Katrina Adams 6-0, 6-0.

If they win their fourth-round matches, Capriati and Sabatini will meet in the quarterfinals.

No. 7 Mary Joe Fernandez, a finalist here two years ago, faltered in the second set against Australia's Rachel McQuillan before prevailing 6-1, 2-6, 6-1. She's the only seed remaining in her quarter of the draw following the loss Saturday by No. 15 Helena Sukova to Dominique Monami of Belgium 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

No. 11 Zina Garrison also advanced by ending Pam Shriver's chances with a 6-4, 6-2 victory.

A grumpy Michael Stich survived another sub-par outing to down Martin Jaite 6-0, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 and also advance to the round of 16.

MaliVai Washington, who beat No. 16 Goran Prpic in the second round, fell to Australia's Wally Masur 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

Perhaps the 14th-seeded Chang should have stopped by to watch Aaron Krickstein before taking center court against Krajicek. Krickstein, another long-match specialist, ran his five-set record to 22-6 by ousting Alexander Volkov 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 8-6 in four hours.
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Re: 1992

Seles, Fernandez in Australian semis
Austin American-Statesman
Tuesday, January 21, 1992
Steve Wilstein, AP

MELBOURNE, Australia - Monica Seles barely dodged fellow grunt-and-slug teen Anke Huber, and Mary Joe Fernandez got through Tuesday at the Australian Open to reach the semifinals for the third straight year.

Seles, the 18-year-old defending champion, fought off break points in every game of the second set before finally prevailing 7-5, 6-3 in the quarters against a 17-year-old German who could match her strength but not quite her consistency.

Seles led 4-1 in the first set, and had six break points off Huber in the sixth game. But the gritty, grunting Huber held after eight deuces, and finally pulled even at 5-5.

After Seles held, she took the set on her third break point when Huber weakened for a moment and double-faulted for the second time in the game.

Seles broke Huber twice in a row to take a 4-1 lead again in the second set, but once more the German struggled back and had chances to press her with break points.

Huber's last opportunity came when Seles hit a forehand that was called long. Seles questioned the call, which put Huber ahead 30-40, but then came back to smack a service winner for deuce. She got her first matchpoint on Huber's backhand return long. But after Huber saved it with a forehand winner on the line, Seles hit another service winner, and finished off the match with a clean forehand winner down the line.

"I think the match was a lot closer than 7-5, 6-3," Seles said. "I just had a little more luck. She was hitting very hard, and not missing many balls."

"I played the important points not good enough," Huber said. "I made too many unforced errors on game point. Perhaps you have to come to the net more against her, but it's difficult."

Fernandez overcame a jammed toe that needed lengthy treatment during her match against American compatriot Amy Frazier, then fought back from deficits in the second set and tie-breaker to win 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).

Not so lucky was Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere, who strained tendons around the big toe of her right foot in doubles Monday and defaulted her quarterfinal singles match Tuesday against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who next meets Seles.

Fernandez, a runner-up to Steffi Graf here two years ago, broke Frazier twice when she served for the second set, and won four consecutive games from 2-5 to go ahead 6-5 in the second set.

Fernandez, 20, from Miami, Fla., jammed her toe late in the first set, and asked for a time out after her service was broken to 1-2 in the second set. A trainer padded the toe, but Fernandez then went through a bout of wildness on serve. She double-faulted at 40-30 and eventually was broken again when she slapped a forehand wide.

Frazier, more aggressive and taking more chances on both her groundstrokes and at the net, blew several opportunities to push the match into a third set.

"She doesn't have much margin for error," Fernandez said of Frazier's style.

The 19-year-old from Rochester Hills, Mich., hit two unforced errors on forehands after leading 5-2 in the tiebreaker. Fernandez then tied it at 5-5 with a lovely forehand dropshot on a short ball, and went ahead 6-5 on a long backhand by Frazier. Fernandez returned the favor to make it 6-6, then took the match when Frazier netted a forehand and a backhand on the next two

"I love playing down here," Fernandez said. "Hopefully, the third time (in the semis) will be lucky for me. I know I'm competing well and playing well, but I still don't play the way I practice. A lot of it's mental."

She said she has to be more aggressive and go for winners more than she's been doing.

"I'm not going to win the tournament if I don't," said Fernandez, who plays the winner of Jennifer Capriati-Gabriela Sabatini match Tuesday night.

Temperatures cooled down considerably on Tuesday, a day after the Australian Open turned into a colossal steambath - courts sizzling at 127 degrees, players wobbling out of matches, fans fainting in their seats.

Medics treated about 20 fans of all ages who passed out in the heat, and several who suffered other symptoms of heatstroke.

"We treated about 25 heat-related injuries," said Wayne Deakes, duty officer for St. John Ambulance at the National Tennis Center. "Most of them fainted or felt faint. It was purely from the heat."
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Re: 1992

TENNIS; Capriati Succumbs to Pressure As Sabatini Steps to Semifinal
New York Times
January 22, 1992

MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 21— Jennifer Capriati, with tears welling in her eyes, struggled to explain a collapse that led to her ouster from the Australian Open today and instead found herself pouring out the frustrations of a 15-year-old rising star on the women's tennis circuit.

Capriati hit six straight unforced errors to begin a second-set tie breaker against Gabriela Sabatini, who went on to win the quarterfinal match, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1). Capriati's only point came on a backhand cross-court winner.

"I think there's a lot of pressure from everyone," said Capriati, who is playing here for the first time and is trying to win her first Grand Slam event.

"It is becoming too serious," she said of tennis, "and I'm feeling it more."

Capriati was clearly missing the carefree approach that once punctuated her approach to the game. But she could not explain precisely what happened.

"It happened so fast," said Capriati, seeded fifth. "I didn't have time to think about it. I'm disappointed with myself. There were times, especially in the tie breaker, when I wasn't there at all."

Capriati said her disappointment and the stress she feels come because she thinks she could move higher in the women's rankings than her current sixth.

"I have to really work at it," she said. "Of course, it's still fun, but I have to really concentrate now, settle down and think about it."

The 21-year-old Sabatini, who has a 10-5 lead in meetings with Capriati, said she understood. Sabatini had been there herself before winning the 1990 United States Open title.

"Everybody has to go through those moments," said Sabatini, seeded third. "I've been through that. It was very difficult. I had my doubts about my tennis. I wasn't enjoying tennis. But if you work hard and be patient, one day everything started to be open."

Capriati has reached the semifinals of the United States Open, Wimbledon and the French Open. In the United States Open, she served for the match but went on to lose to Monica Seles.

Today, Seles advanced to a semifinal match with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario by defeating 12th-seeded Anke Huber, 7-5, 6-3. The fourth-seeded Sanchez Vicario advanced when her opponent, ninth-seeded Manuela Maleeva Fragniere, pulled out with a tendon injury to her big toe.

Sabatini will next meet seventh-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez, who beat Amy Frazier, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).

Sabatini played smart tennis against Capriati. In fact, her performance was reminiscent of the tennis she played to win the 1990 United States Open.

The Argentine hit several exquisite high backhand volley winners during the 1-hour-44-minute encounter, the most impressive being her second match point in the tie breaker. That was the point that put her into the semifinals.

The match began with Capriati moving to a 4-2 lead, breaking Sabatini's serve twice. But Sabatini then won four straight games, volleying well and passing Capriati when she tried to take the net. In the last two games of the set, Capriati won only one point. Back and Forth

In the second set, Sabatini took a 3-1 lead but Capriati rallied to a 4-3 lead by winning 13 of 14 points. She went on to a 6-5 advantage but Sabatini held serve to force the tie breaker.

The Seles-Huber match offered a preview of the future, and no one seemed more aware of that than Seles, who seemed to sense as the match unfolded that the 12th-ranked Huber could eventually challenge her No. 1 ranking.

The 17-year-old German has the power to promote a slugfest with Seles. Although Seles has won their three matches, Huber is not afraid of her and is quickly developing the muscle to cope with Seles's fast and strong shots. Last year, the two also played here in the quarterfinals and Huber won only four games. One year later, she doubled her effort.

Boris Breskvar is in charge of developing Huber and he's no stranger to locating talent. Breskvar was an early mentor to both Boris Becker and Steffi Graf in Liemen, Germany.

When the softspoken Breskvar was asked whether Huber would eventually have a more diverse game than Seles, he said, "Not less." But his immediate plan is for Huber to improve concentration and gain a proficiency at volleying.

"I didn't think about beating her," Huber said. "When it was 5-all, sure, I did," she added, referring to the first set. "I wanted, though, to just play a good game."

Seles wasn't surprised at Huber's admission. "That's a reaction I always had when I was an up-and-coming player, playing against top players," she said. "You've just got to get over that." Breaking Points

Huber managed to challenge a 5-2 deficit to even the score at 5-all in the first set. But Huber double-faulted on the third set point of the final game.

Except for Huber's service game in the eighth game, there was at least one break point in every game of the second set. Seles had four break points in the set and converted two of them to her advantage. Huber had nine such chances but broke serve only in the first game.

"A lot of times, I let her get back into the match, which against a good player like her, shouldn't be allowed," Seles said. "It's too dangerous, too risky."
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Re: 1992

Sports Spotlight: Australian Open - Sabatini humbles Capriati
Houston Chronicle
Tuesday, JANUARY 21, 1992
Paul Alexander, Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia - Jennifer Capriati's hopes for a Grand Slam title ended today with a flurry of errors against an attacking Gabriela Sabatini in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

The third-seeded Sabatini, using the aggressive style that carried her to the U.S. Open title in 1990, beat the 15-year-old Floridian 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) as the No. 5 seed fell apart in the tiebreaker, losing the first six points on unforced errors.

Earlier, it was the good, the bad and the absent as Monica Seles, Mary Joe Fernandez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario took contrasting paths to the semifinals.

Seles, the top seed and defending champion, outblasted No. 12 Anke Huber 7-5, 6-3 in an exchange of raw power seldom seen in women's tennis.

No. 7 Fernandez, meanwhile, survived an ugly match of mistakes to defeat American Amy Frazier, who blew a 5-2 lead in the second set and a 5-2 advantage in the tiebreaker in losing 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).

No. 4 Sanchez Vicario didn't even have to take the court. She advanced when No. 9 Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere withdrew with a toe injury sustained in a doubles match Monday.

Seles will face Sanchez Vicario and Sabatini opposes Fernandez in Thursday's semifinals.

Capriati appeared distraught after the match, her eyes brimming with tears.

"It just happened so fast. I didn't know what was happening," Capriati said of the string of mistakes in the tiebreaker. "I'm disappointed in myself. I know people were expecting me to play better."

Capriati, unlike a year ago when she shrugged off losses with a smile, appeared extremely tense and upset.

"I think there's a lot of pressure from everyone," she said. "Maybe because (tennis) is becoming more serious. Because I have a chance to become higher (in the rankings) from what I am now."

She said the match wasn't her biggest disappointment. But it ranks right behind her semifinal loss to Seles in the U.S. Open last year after holding match point.

Sabatini seemed surprised by the ease with which she won the tiebreaker.

"I think she made a lot of mistakes," she said. "I didn't do anything special. She had many chances in the match."

Sabatini said she could understand Capriati's feelings and that she had considered before her U.S. Open victory whether she should continue competing.

"I think everybody has to go through those moments," she said. "It was pretty difficult. I had my doubts about playing tennis. I wasn't enjoing it."

But Sabatini said she had rediscovered her love for the game when her work to improve began paying off.

"I'm having a lot of fun," she said. "I think I play smarter, attacking more."

Capriati, the youngest quarterfinalist ever at the Australian Open, had fought back from service breaks early in both sets, but finally fell to the Argentine star's combination of baseline shots and solid net game, which she largely abandoned after her title at the U.S. Open.

Sabatini has yet to lose a set in winning a warmup tournament in Sydney and five matches here.

Seles sustained a strained neck before the tournament and has struggled to find her form, particularly her first serve.

The serve remains a question mark -- she got only 56 percent of her first serves in against Huber -- but everything else was devastating.

"I think the match was a lot closer than 7-5, 6-3," Seles said. "I just had a little more luck. She was hitting very hard and not missing balls."

The 17-year-old German, who lost to Seles easily in last year's quarterfinals, demonstrated the ripping groundstrokes and composure under stress that epitomizes her go-for-broke style.

Down 4-1 to Seles in the first set, Huber easily could have folded as Seles appeared on the verge of a second service break at 15-40. But Huber fought off six breakpoints in a game with eight deuces.

She finally tied the score at 5 by holding serve after breaking Seles when the Florida-based Yugoslav double-faulted twice in one game.

But then Seles claimed the key points as her own. She held serve with four straight points after falling behind 0-30, then broke Huber on her third match point when she double-faulted for the second time in the game.

Huber bounced back to break Seles in the first game of the second set, but Seles won the next four games to take control. She still had to work hard, however, as Huber held game points in all but one game, including all five of Seles' serves.

Her last chance came as Seles served for the match. Huber pulled ahead at 30-40 when Seles hit a forehand that was called long. She questioned the decision, clamping her hand to her forehead.

She shrugged off the call to smack a service winner, and one deuce later, finished off the match with a spinning serve into Huber's body that she netted, and a clean forehand winner down the line.

Seles and Huber provided a sharp contrast to the earlier mistake-plagued match between Fernandez and Frazier.

The two combined for 108 errors, hitting forehands and backhands virtually everywhere but on court.

Fernandez lost her serve three straight times in the second set, taking an injury timeout to call for a trainer when she jammed a toe.

Frazier served for the set at 5-2 but lost the next four games on a flurry of mistakes. After taking a 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker, she lost it 8-6 on four errors, ending with a backhand into the net.
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post #488 of 648 (permalink) Old Mar 6th, 2013, 07:39 PM
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Re: 1992

Daily News of Los Angeles
Wednesday, January 22, 1992
Steve Wilstein, Associated Press

Jennifer Capriati's dark eyes brimmed with tears. Her voice trembled. Her face wore a blank, pale expression of shock.

The teen-age tennis machine, clanking out money with every endorsement and match, was transformed into a sad, vulnerable 15-year-old after losing to Gabriela Sabatini, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), in Tuesday's Australian Open quarterfinals.

She spoke of pressures and expectations -- her own and those foisted on her -- and couldn't find the words to explain an utter collapse Tuesday night against the third seed.

Six straight unforced errors to start a second-set tie-breaker. Wildly mis-hit shots. Lapses in concentration. Clever, aggressive play by a mature opponent.

It all added up to a finish that sent Sabatini into the semifinals against Mary Joe Fernandez and left Capriati to cry over her lost chances.

"I'm disappointed in myself," she said, quavering. "I know that people were expecting a great match. I think there is some pressure, actually a lot of pressure from everyone, maybe because it has become much more serious now. I feel it a little more."

The innocent delight Capriati took in playing pro tennis, win or lose, since her debut as a precocious, giggly 14-year-old had been missing since she arrived for her first Australian Open . She won her first four matches easily, all in straight sets, but took no pleasure in them. Gone was that effervescent enthusiasm that made her so popular with fans, players and the press.

Instead, she seemed grimly determined to move up from her No. 6 ranking, to get past the semifinals reached at the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and French Open, and finally win a Grand Slam. She wanted it all so much and so quickly that any setback here inevitably would hurt.

Her mood, and the pressure she appeared to be under, recalled the tribulations of young "burnout" victims who succumbed to the stress of constant travel and competition.

Capriati may be an industry unto herself - endorsing five companies while globetrotting with her parents, coach, agent and tutor - but until lately she had been surviving with a sense of humor and adventure the whirlwind that surrounded her.

"I have to really work at it to try and keep up there and to keep playing well," she said after her loss, showing character and maturity just by enduring an obviously painful post-match news conference. "Of course, it's still fun, but it's just that I have to really concentrate now and settle down and really think about it."

The U.S. Open loss to Monica Seles after serving for the match still galls Capriati, who considers it her biggest disappointment. This one is a close second, and it means she won't get another chance at Seles here.

Sabatini, in her prime at 21, six years after turning pro, alternately slugged it out with Capriati from the baseline and chose her moments to attack.She broke Capriati's opening service at 30-40 with her first foray to the net, putting away a soft backhand volley crosscourt that Capriati couldn't touch.

Capriati showed her grittiness in the third game, fending off two break points and holding serve after seven deuces. More significantly, it was during that game that Capriati last flashed the pleasant, easy smile she used to show so often.

She had just whacked a forehand long for an unforced error to waste her sixth game point, and she turned for support to her parents in the second row of the stands. She and her mother, Denise, smiled warmly to each other, and in that brief exchange the pressure temporarily melted away.

Capriati won the next nine points and 16 of 18 - holding serve, breaking Sabatini at love with the help of two strong volleys, holding again at 40-15 on a crisp, unreachable backhand, and breaking once more on a backhand pass at 15-40 for a 4-2 lead.

But Capriati's roll ended as suddenly as it began. Sabatini won the first of four straight games to take the set, volleying spectacularly and passing Capriati when she ventured to the net.

The streaky nature of the match was intensified in the second set - Sabatini taking a 3-1 lead, Capriati coming back to go ahead 4-3 after winning 13 of 14 points. Both effectively mixed baseline and net games, going for broke on volleys and overheads, jumping on second serves. It was high-level tennis.

But Capriati was hard on herself at the end, annoyed by an easy overhead she missed long at 0-15 when she led, 6-5, in the second set. That would have put her within two points of evening the match. Instead, Sabatini seized the opportunity and won the game with a forehand passing shot.

The artistry ended there. Capriati played the tie-breaker as if in a daze, quickly going from bad shot to bad shot with no plan, no pause to consider what she was doing.

"It just happened so fast that I didn't know what was happening," she said. "I didn't have time to think about it."

Capriati lost the first point on her serve when she knocked a backhand wide crosscourt, then mis-hit a forehand wide the other way. She lost the next four points on a variety of backhand miscues -- one on a return, two on baseline rallies, another on a half-volley.

At 6-0 and match point, she finally hit a backhand winner, but by then it was virtually impossible to come back. Sabatini reached up for a shallow lob from Capriati and returned a backhand overhead at match point.

"She made a lot of mistakes in the tie-breaker," Sabatini said. "I didn't do anything special. I was just serving or hitting a return, and she was just missing."

Sabatini sympathized with Capriati's anxiety, recalling her own worries as a teen-ager and her thoughts about quitting tennis before she won the U.S. Open.

"I think everybody has to go through those moments," Sabatini said. "It's something she has to work on, that's all. I had my doubts about playing tennis. I was not enjoying tennis. I just tried to keep working hard and be patient, and one day everything just started to open."

Sabatini's agent, Dick Dell, said he's seen other young players go through periods of pressure similar to Capriati.

"She's a great player, so close to being the best," he said. "She's so advanced already, it's just a matter of time for things to click. She could have won that match. She could have beaten Monica (at the U.S. Open). Her time will come. She's too good to fail. She just has to be patient and not let the pressure get to her."
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Re: 1992

Seles applies the brakes in time - Tennis
The Times
London, England
Wednesday, January 22, 1992
From Andrew Longmore, Tennis Correspondent, in Melbourne

THE hijack of the Australian Open by John McEnroe has largely relegated the women to the back seat over the past few days. But yesterday they forcibly took the wheel, their three quarter-finals providing a feast for all those who like their tennis fast and noisy.

The only disappointment was that Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere was unable to press the accelerator at all. The No.9 seed had to withdraw with an injured right foot, presenting Arantxa Sanchez Vicario with a walkover.

None of the other matches was easy, though they all went to form and were all won in straight sets. Monica Seles, in particular, had a devil of a struggle to suppress Anke Huber, the No.12 seed. Had the German showed just a fraction more composure at crucial moments, she could have gained revenge for the drubbing she took here last year at the hands of Seles.

Then, she was out-hit and overawed, managing just four games; 12 months on, at the same stage, she ran the defending champion much closer than the scoreline of 7-5, 6-3, would indicate, and, in the long run, Seles has more to worry about than Huber. Only one game was won to love, 11 went to deuce as Huber, at the age of 17 almost exactly a year younger than Seles, traded blows with the top seed and refused to buckle under the ceaseless baseline onslaught.

Huber is learning to live with the best company and, with a little more self-belief, could yet beat Seles before the year is out. "I didn't really think I could beat her before I went out," Huber said. "I just wanted to play a good game." And she did.

Only Jennifer Capriati, who was beaten by Gabriela Sabatini yesterday, and Steffi Graf have matched Seles so strongly from the back of the court. Recent defeats by Sabatini, Martina Navratilova and Linda Ferrando, in the third round of the US Open in 1990, the last time she lost in a grand slam tournament, have been inflicted by players willing to get to the net. "That is the only way you can beat her," Huber said. "But it is difficult to get to the net because she hits so hard and uses the angles so well."

The volley count four won by Huber, three by Seles was in inverse proportion to the decibel count, which, at times, reached such heights the photographers' lenses seemed in imminent danger of fragmenting. It was not pretty, by any means, but nobody could argue with the effort or the entertainment.

The Yugoslav had six points to take a 5-1 lead in the first set, but Huber saved them all valiantly and gained so much confidence from matching the iron-willed Seles at close quarters she broke back to level at 5-5 before wasting the recovery with an unforced error and a double-fault.

Huber's last chance to recover came and went in the seventh game of the second set, Seles, ever shaky on her own service, having to save three more break points before emerging the victor, 7-5, 6-3, in an hour and 50 minutes. "Sometimes you just have to slug it out," Seles said. At the moment, there is no better slugger in the game.

Huber's emergence as a genuine rival coincided with the departure of Capriati, the one player widely tipped to match Seles here. The American's first venture to Australia died in a hail of unforced errors, 42 in all. Four in succession at the start of the second-set tie-break effectively ended her challenge to Sabatini, who simply made fewer winners and fewer errors.
The scoreline of 6-4, 7-6 duplicated Mary Joe Fernandez's victory over her fellow American, Amy Frazier. The No.7 seed had to have treatment for an injured toe during the second set, but it should not stop her from facing Sabatini in her third successive Australian Open semi-final.

There was, though, disappointment for Britain in the mixed doubles when the defending champions, Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie, lost to Scott Davis and Robyn White, 6-3, 7-6.

Women's singles semi-finals: M Seles (Yug) v A Sanchez Vicario (Sp); G Sabatini (Arg) v M J Fernandez (US)
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Re: 1992

TENNIS; Fernandez Hits Volleys and Bounces Sabatini
January 23, 1992
New York Times

MELBOURNE, Australia, Thurs day, Jan. 23— One hour was a day's work for top-seeded Monica Seles, who eliminated Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-2, 6-2, today and advanced to the finals of the Australian Open.

Mary Joe Fernandez needed only 1 hour 24 minutes in her semifinal to discover that she could volley, an extreme departure for the stolid base liner and one that resulted in a 6-1, 6-4 upset of Gabriela Sabatini.

For the last two years, Fernandez has been talking aggression, but playing passively. Now a new look has given the Floridian a second trip to a final here: Fernandez lost in 1990 to Steffi Graf.

"I knew I had to do something drastic," said Fernandez, 20 years old and seeded seventh. "I see being aggressive pays off. I can look back on these matches and say, 'Hey, I did it and I won.' "

It didn't hurt that Sabatini, 21 and seeded third, looked like she was calling in her performance. She couldn't cope with Fernandez's pressure and never made inroads into countering her opponent's forays to the net.

The two have played 15 times and Sabatini leads the series with nine victories. Their last meeting was two weeks ago in Sydney, where Sabatini won easily.

"She changed her strategy from last week," said Sabatini.

Fernandez is coached by the former touring pro Harold Solomon, who in his playing days was strictly a baseliner. But the professor can teach tricks he couldn't do himself. Fernandez made 15 points at the net and only three volley errors.

Sabatini seemed flatfooted throughout, piling up 26 unforced errors. She opened the match with a service break, but never won another game in the first set.

The Argentine put in a more formidable effort in the second set, but it wasn't enough. Sabatini was down, 4-2, but broke back from deuce in the seventh game, when Fernandez double-faulted and hit a forehand into the net. Fernandez calmed her nerves and regained her momentum.

Fernandez may need more than new-found aggressiveness against Seles, who has won eight of the nine matches they have played.

Seles is only 18 but she has been in four Grand Slam finals and captured all four crowns. Last year, she won the Australian, French and United States Opens, and missed Wimbledon with celebrated shin splints. Her absence drew as many headlines as her victories.

Sanchez Vicario, a semifinalist here last year, just doesn't know how to defuse Seles's game. Since 1989, she's challenged Seles eight times and eight times she's failed.

The 20-year-old Spaniard's principal error is trying to outhit Seles's supersonic ground strokes. She is not alone -- that is what the majority of players attempt against Seles. They almost always fail.

Seles started streaky, losing the first 6 points to go down a break. But Sanchez Vicario returned the break in the second game and in only 26 minutes lost the first set.
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Re: 1992

Fernandez surprises Sabatini - Seles easily gains Australian Open final
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Thursday, January 23, 1992
Steve Wilstein, Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia - Mary Joe Fernandez, inspired by Gabriela Sabatini's transformation from baseliner to net-charger, upsurped her style yesterday to join defending champion Monica Seles in the Australian Open final.

Fernandez, runner-up to Steffi Graf here two years ago, surprised and overwhelmed Sabatini with an aggressive and accurate attack to win, 6-1, 6-4, in the semifinals.

Fittingly, Fernandez ended the match with a backhand volley into an open court, a shot she used so well throughout the one-sided affair.

In contrast to Seles' 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Arantxa Sanchez Vicario from the baseline, Fernandez mixed up her shots as well as Sabatini did in winning the 1990 U.S. Open.

Fernandez, a 20-year-old Floridian, lost to Seles in the semifinals here last year and is determined to reverse that score.

"I'll have to be aggressive and really go for it," said Fernandez, who has lost eight of nine matches against Seles. "I know it's not going to be easy. It's never easy with Monica. But I have to do it. I won't win any other way."

Fernandez said she reviewed her straight-set loss to No. 3 Sabatini two weeks ago on the hard courts of a tuneup tournament in Sydney.

"I said I had to do something drastically different. I tried to attack a lot and come in a lot," Fernandez said. "I played one way all my life, and it's hard to change your mentality.

"It's still not easy. You look at the other side and know if you don't hit a great shot, you're going to get passed. Harold made me realize I had no choice."

Sabatini, who got through the quarters this year with a brilliant
performance against Jennifer Capriati, led her match-ups with Fernandez 9-5.
But the past only served to help Fernandez.

Fernandez figured the key to beating Sabatini was to follow her example, and it paid off as she won 17 points at the net, compared to six for Sabatini.

The athletic Argentine broke Fernandez in the first game, then lost the next six games as Fernandez charged the net regularly, demonstrating her best form by far in the tournament.

Fernandez played almost effortlessly in the quick first set, following in approach shots to Sabatini's backhand, and putting away volleys and overheads. She broke Sabatini to 2-1 in the second set after going up 0-40 with a typical sequence of shots -- forehand approach, backhand, forehand volley crosscourt. After saving two breakpoints, Sabatini lapsed and lost the game with a lazy backhand into the net.

Fernandez stayed a break up to 4-2, but Sabatini struggled back to make it 4-4 after Fernadez held three gamepoints at 40-0. After the second deuce, Fernandez double-faulted, then hit a weak forehand into the net.

But Fernandez didn't give up, pressing the attack again on Sabatini's serve and getting three breakpoints again at 0-40. When Sabatini rallied back to deuce once more, Fernandez grabbed another breakpoint with a backhand winner after a long, wearying rally. Sabatini then mis-hit a backhand very long for the break that set up Fernandez's victory.

"She played very well. I was missing too much and hitting the ball too short," said a subdued and downcast Sabatini, who had looked sharp while not dropping a set in her last two tournaments. "I was feeling a little frustrated, because I was making too many mistakes. My shots weren't working too well. I was probably surprised by how well she was doing. She changed her strategy from (Sydney)."

Fernandez had been frustrated by her inability to transfer to matches the approach and volley skills she works on in practice with her coach, Harold Solomon. Ironically, Solomon rarely went to the net in his playing days.

Fernandez felt she needed one key match to see that aggressiveness pays off. She found such a match this time against Sabatini.

"I still don't play the way I practice," she said. "I am practicing well and coming in a lot and playing aggressive. Still, when you get up there (in matches) it is hard. Once you see you win a certain way, you don't want to try another way.

"I am not to the point yet where I just go and don't think about the outcome. I think about the parts of my game I have to work on, and that's difficult. Hopefully, little by little it will happen. Sabatini went through the same thing. And just one day it happened against me where she took chances and it paid off. Then she started doing it a lot. That's what I need - one of those matches where I see that it works to give me confidence to do it in the future."

The mystique of Seles has nothing to do with her tennis, as she showed once more with an unequivocal baseline bashing of Sanchez Vicario.

Seles, 18, thwarted every tactic Sanchez Vicario tried in a one-hour match that was as straightforward as Seles' grunting groundstrokes.

Seles, 8-0 against Sanchez Vicario, whaled away with power and precision, tattooing the lines repeatedly while the 20-year-old Spaniard tried in vain to respond.

Whether Sanchez Vicario stayed back to rally or rushed the net to apply pressure, Seles ruthlessly riddled her with forehands, backhands and the occasional overhead on short lobs.

"I definitely hit much better than any other match," Seles said. "At least I was happy with my serve. As the tournament started I wasn't feeling I was playing great tennis. But I've improved each match."

The high moment for Sanchez Vicario came in the first game of the match, when she broke Seles at love. But Seles broke right back, and at 2-2 went on a streak to win seven straight games.

When Sanchez Vicario briefly rallied with a two-game streak halfway through the second set, Seles won nine consecutive points.

The center court crowd was almost silent in watching the lopsided match on a cool, breezy and overcast day.

While Sanchez Vicario didn't give up easily, Seles ran her ragged with shots from corner to corner. The plucky Spaniard found herself forced to hit two or three great shots to win a point.

"She had more confidence as the match went on, and she started hitting more winners," Sanchez Vicario said. "I have to improve my serve to play against Monica. She just controlled the points better than me."

Seles will be going for her second consecutive Grand Slam. She followed up her Australian Open victory last year with wins in the French Open and U.S. Open, losing out on the full Grand Slam only by missing Wimbledon because of shin splints.

Seles seemed to cultivate an air of mystery last year with her Wimbledon absence, which was initially unexplained, and her attempts to shape an image as a Hollywood-style tennis starlet.

She expected a much tougher match against Sanchez Vicario. In Los Angeles last year on a similar hard court, she barely beat Sanchez Vicario 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4.
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Re: 1992

The Wichita Eagle
Thursday, January 23, 1992
Mal Elliott

Julie Steven, a promising young Wichita tennis player, has been invited to join the U.S. Tennis Association's national junior team.

As one of nine girls and eight boys on the team, Steven, 15, will be groomed for international competition, including the Junior Grand Slam tour.

Steven is in Australia this week traveling under the auspices of the USTA. She reached the semifinals in singles and doubles in the Victoria (Australia) Open Junior tournament last week and has advanced to the semifinals in singles and lost in the doubles quarterfinals at the Australian Open this week.

Steven is the second Kansan to be invited to join the U.S. national team. Wichitan Buff Farrow was a member in 1987.

Steven is the third-youngest player invited. She will turn 16 April 24.

Pam Hartman, USTA official, said being a member of the U.S. national team is junior tennis' highest honor. In the past, the boys have been invited to compete in the Junior Davis Cup and the girls in the Junior Wightman Cup.

''The U.S. national team competes all year long, not just in one major event," Hartman said. "They represent the country in many more events than one."

Hartman said the junior players are not selected on ranking but on their potential to reach the top 20 in the world.

''It's based on the coaching staff's evaluation that they have what it takes," Hartman said. "Of course, that's no guarantee that they'll make it."

The USTA first revealed its interest in Steven when it invited her to compete in the Junior U.S. Open last fall.

Hartman said being on the national team gives players access to world- class coaching and training camps in the United States and to leading professional sports physicians, psychologists and physical therapists.

The USTA also underwrites travel to foreign competition. This week, Steven is in Australia as a member of the U.S. team under Joanne Russell, a former women's tour standout and current television analyst.

Steven earned rankings in two age divisions last year. She has a preliminary ranking of No. 4 in girls 16 and No. 11 in girls 18 singles. She and Katie Schlukebir of Kalamazoo, Mich., are ranked No. 2 in girls 18 doubles.

Except for missing two seasons for treatment of an uncommon bone-growth ailment in her knees, Steven was ranked No. 1 every year she competed in the five-state Missouri Valley Tennis Association. She was No. 1 in girls 12s at age 11 and after the long layoff came back at age 14 and earned a No. 1 ranking in 16s. Last year at age 15, she was ranked No. 1 in 18s.

She has been named the MVTA Player of the Year the last two years.

Last year, she won the doubles championship at the U.S. Grass Courts, was runner-up in doubles in the 18 Clay Courts and reached the semifinals at the 16 Nationals. At the Junior U.S. Open, she defeated Lindsay Davenport, the girls 18 national champion, before losing to the eventual finalist.
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Re: 1992

Well, we all know how this turned out...

The Miami Herald
Thursday, January 23, 1992

If only Mary Pierce had spoken into a tape recorder.

As Nick Bollettieri approached her on an indoor court at his Bradenton, Fla., tennis academy, signaling the end of one practice drill and the start of another, Pierce let out a playful laugh and said quietly, "This is fun."

If only that comment could have been captured and replayed for all the self-designated psychologists who have analyzed Pierce, 17, the No. 26 player in the world, and concluded that she cannot be enjoying herself. They say she is a slave to her rigorous schedule and her driven father. They say she is a talented but force-fed tennis player ready to splinter beneath the pressure. Too much, too young, read the headline of an article on Pierce in the May 1990, Sports Illustrated.

That assessment ignores one fairly significant detail: Mary Pierce.

Perhaps, in truth, everything's not right. But it's far from all wrong.

For all the trauma Mary supposedly has gone through, she seems to be growing up just fine.

Last year, her best on the tour since she turned pro at 14, Mary jumped from 106 to 26 in the Virginia Slims rankings and won one singles tournament, beating Sandra Cecchini in the final at Palermo.

Mary is articulate and intelligent -- she gets A's in her high school correspondence courses -- and she's friendly, conversational and extremely modest. Bollettieri loves her, feeding her encouragement like tennis balls during practice. "Right there!" (Wham.) "Beautiful!" (Wallop.) "That's perfect, Mary!"

But Pierce, who skipped the Australian Open because of a lingering knee strain, is the focus of a controversial seven-year-old family project to build a tennis star. Her schedule, set by her father, gets her on the court four or five hours a day and requires an hour or two more of running and weightlifting. Her free time is restricted; she must be in bed by 10 every night and she's not allowed to have a boyfriend.

Yannick Pierce, Mary's mother, said coordinating Mary's tournament schedule and the family's travel is a full-time job. David, Mary's 15-year-old brother and an aspiring tennis player
himself, adjusts his plans to fit his sister's. Her earnings -- $90,000 in 1991 -- are the family's only income.

"It's a family affair," said Yannick Pierce, who has a Ph.D. in linguistics. "She's like the president of a company and we all work for her."

The most scrutinized element of the family business is Jim Pierce, Mary's father. Though Mary picked up a racket on her own at age 10 when the family lived in Clearwater, it was her father, a former jeweler and Marine, who put her on an eight-hour-a-day practice regimen a year later after Mary won her first junior national tournament.

Though Mary has spent the past three months in Bradenton working closely with Bollettieri, there is no question who is boss.

"I ask Jim's opinion on everything," Bollettieri said. "I'm not taking his daughter away -- it's all three of us working together."

They are working to get Mary to the top of the rankings where they believe she belongs. The Pierces leave Friday for Germany where Mary will compete in her first tournament in 1992, the $350,000 Nokia Grand Prix in Essen.

"Mary hits the ball as hard as any girl in the world from both sides," said Bollettieri, whose most famous former pupil is Andre Agassi. "She's big (5-11); she's fast; she's an athlete. In 12 to 18 months you could have a top five player in the world."

One day, when Jim Pierce saw Mary walking off the court, seemingly finished with practice for the morning, he looked at his watch and said: "Look at that. An hour and fifteen minutes and she thinks she's finished. She's not finished."

She wasn't. Jim Pierce had his daughter return balls for another 20 minutes. Mary offered not a word of protest.

This is the point in the story where the skeptics begin to shake their heads. Too much pushing, too much work, too little childhood, they say. Not true, Mary insists. Even when Jim Pierce's criticisms and manner sting, she said she realizes that, deep down, he has her best interest in mind.

"If I didn't like it, with all I've gone through," she said, "I wouldn't be playing now. Every coach in tennis will get mad. My dad does get very mad sometimes, but he loves me and he's doing what he thinks is best for me."

Jim Pierce, who dropped out of school after the eighth grade, said he is just trying to give his children the guidance he never had.

"I committed myself one million percent to my daughter and my son and my family. People just can't stand to see that kind of family unity. America doesn't have that any more." Mary disdains criticism but she genuinely loves the game. A very large smile spreads over her face when she talks about her dream: winning the French Open in her mother's home country. Though she and her family have lived in various parts of Florida for most of Mary's life, Mary said her strongest allegiance is to France, the country that has supported her most and for which she will play in the Olympics.

Sure, the practices are long -- maybe too long -- but Mary said she doesn't mind. She didn't want to miss a workout last week because of a cold, but her father insisted that she take the day off to rest. Like Jim Pierce, Mary is a perfectionist.

"I don't like to miss one shot," she said. "I figure if I can make one, I can make them all."
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Re: 1992

Finishing up the 1992 AO. Sorry it took so long.

Fernandez Restrings Her Strategy, Thumps No. 3 Sabatini
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Friday, January 24, 1992

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Mary Joe Fernandez looked back on her last match against Gabriela Sabatini and didn't like what she saw.

Fernandez had won only five games against an aggressive Sabatini in the semifinals of the New South Wales Open in Sydney two weeks ago.

But she reversed that in the Australian Open on Thursday, stunning the No. 3 seed 6-1, 6-4 and advancing to a meeting in the Grand Slam tournament final against Monica Seles. The top seed and defending champion, Seles needed only an hour to devastate No. 4 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-2, 6-2.

Fernandez and her new coach, Harold Solomon, watched a tape Wednesday night of her mistake-plagued loss to Sabatini.

''I said I had to do something drastically different,'' the seventh-seeded Fernandez said. ''I tried to attack a lot and come in a lot.''

The attacking style took Sabatini by surprise. She had used the same tactics in ousting Jennifer Capriati in the quarterfinals, but couldn't handle a mirror image of herself.

Sabatini broke Fernandez in the first game, then lost the next six games as Fernandez charged the net regularly, demonstrating her best form by far in the tournament.

''She played very well,'' said a subdued and downcast Sabatini, who had looked sharp while not dropping a set in her last two tournaments. ''She changed her strategy from last week. I was feeling a little frustrated because I was making too many mistakes. My shots weren't working too well.''

Solomon, ironically a pure baseliner ranked among the top 15 men's money winners in 1974-80, has pushed Fernandez to attack more since he started working with her last month.

''It's still not easy,'' Fernandez said. ''You look at the other side and know if you don't hit a great shot, you're going to get passed. It's hard when you've played a certain way for a long time - 17 years - to change. Harold made me realize I had no choice.''

It's the second time in three years that Fernandez has reached the final of the year's first Grand Slam tournament. She lost to Seles last year in the semis, with the third set going to 9-7, and has won only the first of their nine meetings.

Seles looked as sharp as Sanchez Vicario was off. After losing her first service game at love, Seles won the next five while dropping only five points.

''I definitely hit much better than any match I've played up until now,'' said Seles, who won all three Grand Slams she entered last year.

She had been having trouble with her serve, but said she picked up some inspiration after watching the men's quarterfinal duel between Michael Stich and Richard Krajicek, who combined for 37 aces.

The center court crowd was almost silent in watching the lopsided match on a cool, breezy and overcast day.

While Sanchez Vicario didn't give up easily, Seles ran her ragged with shots from corner to corner. Sanchez Vicario found herself forced to hit two or three great shots to win a point, while Seles blasted winners almost at will.

After Sanchez Vicario held to pull even at 2-2, Seles ran off seven consecutive games. When Sanchez Vicario briefly rallied by winning back-to-back games halfway through the second set, Seles extinguished the fire by winning nine points in a row.

Typical of the way the day went for Sanchez Vicario, she committed unforced errors on four of the last points, hitting two forehands long at deuce.

The only light moment came when a ball girl tried to chase a bug off court, and Sanchez Vicario had her service motion interrupted when she realized a bird had landed on the net in the meantime.

Meanwhile, Jim Courier, the No. 2 seed, was scheduled to play Krajicek in the semifinals, with the winner going to the final against either No. 1 Stefan Edberg or unseeded Wayne Ferreira, the conqueror of John McEnroe.
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Re: 1992

Friday, January 24, 1992

Mary Joe Fernandez has tried to forget that backhand, the one she hit into the net at match point against Monica Seles in last year's Australian Open semifinals.

Seles went on to beat Fernandez 6-3, 0-6, 9-7, then defeated Jana Novotna in the final. Seles claimed the No. 1 ranking and has not lost a Grand Slam since.

Fernandez never got any closer to her first Grand Slam title in 1991, but she returns to Flinders Park on Saturday (9 tonight, ESPN) to take another shot at Seles and that elusive milestone.

''I'm just happy to be in the final again,'' said Fernandez, who lost the 1990 final, her first Grand Slam final, to Steffi Graf. ''It doesn't matter who I play. I just want to win my first Grand Slam. I've tried to forget last year's match with Monica. This is going to be a new match. I've played her many times since then.''

Fernandez has lost 10 consecutive matches to Seles since winning their first encounter in 1989, but the 20-year-old from Miami who grew up on the baseline will come out charging this time.

Fernandez surprised and upset Gabriela Sabatini 6-1, 6-4 with an aggressive game Thursday. Sabatini beat Fernandez 6-2, 6-3 in Sydney two weeks ago.

''I definitely have to play the same way against Monica,'' Fernandez said. ''I'm not going to win if I stay back and wait for her to make errors. I have to play aggressively.''

Fernandez, built to attack at 5 feet 10 and 140 pounds, credits new coach Harold Solomon with transforming her into an offensive player.

''He's been drilling it into my head every day,'' said Fernandez, who began working with the former Top Ten star from Fort Lauderdale last month. ''He's told me that the only way for me to get to the top was to play aggressively. He constantly reminds me.

''I have been playing that way in practice, but it was hard to change in a match. Once you see you win a certain way, you don't want to try another way. I got to the point where I didn't think about the outcome, but the parts of my game I have to work on. Sabatini went through the same thing. And just one day it happened against me (at the 1990 U.S. Open) where she took chances and it paid off. Then she started doing it a lot. I needed one of those matches where I see that it works to give me confidence to do it in the future.''

Fernandez's tournament really began with Sabatini. Fernandez was seeded to play Graf in the quarterfinals, but Graf pulled out with a viral infection.

Seles was sharp in the semifinals, routing Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-2, 6-2 -- her eighth victory without a loss against the Spaniard.

''I definitely hit much better than any match I've played up until now,'' said Seles, who began the tournament with a sore neck.

Seles defeated three surprise Grand Slam finalists in 1991 -- Novotna (Australian), Sanchez (French), and Martina Navratilova (U.S. Open).

Fernandez makes four, although she has developed a special fondness for Melbourne. ''I love playing down here,'' Fernandez said. ''One day, I'd like to live here. The people are just great.''
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