|Topic Review (Newest First)|
|Jan 18th, 2016 01:10 AM|
Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
|Jan 17th, 2016 07:44 PM|
Oh Ma GAWD!. Where did that quote come from? I can't believe it's been 30 years either, whoa! Do you think graf's forehand at its most powerful matches anyone's today?
|Jan 17th, 2016 05:08 AM|
This made me laugh!
|Jan 17th, 2016 03:10 AM|
I am editing in 1986 results and came across this thread. 30 years flies by rather quick!
It seems like only yesterday that I thought no one can hit harder than Graf!
|Apr 9th, 2015 03:06 PM|
Originally Posted by louloubelle View Post
Yes, I've seen some lovely pics of Jana and Helena together. Together, they made such an outstanding doubles team, complementing each other perfectly. I think that Jana was the best partner for Helena, and the same might be said of Helena for Jana.
The Monte Carlo incident with Hanika is an example of Hana being on her own and not knowing what to do. She said that she didn't trust Sylvia enough to talk to her before the match. There was good reason for this at the time because after Hana defeated Sylvia for the French title, the German tennis federation (with Sylvia's complicity) accused Hana of doping. Yeah - just look at how skinny Hana was and "doping" immediately comes to mind.
Had someone like Pam been involved in this, she would've known to have someone else, a coach or someone involved with the exhibition to say something to Hanika before hand. This match is available and it's odd watching Hana pack her things up and running off the court to get to the airport.
I also loved the part of the story where Virginia Wade did a little fibbing to the airline to get them to Chile quicker. Hana referred to her as "a resourceful woman."
|Apr 9th, 2015 12:00 PM|
Originally Posted by HanaFanGA View Post
Yes Hana's book was a good read. The trip was controversial in that Hana also cut short an IMG exhibition match with Hanika to make a connecting flight to get to Chile. So at 1 set all, Hana disappears off the court and doesn't return No one told Sylvia that hana could only play 2 sets apparently!
Glad to see there is some reconciliation between Hana and Helena. Wonder if this has occurred between Helena and Jana too.
|Apr 8th, 2015 03:59 PM|
Originally Posted by Ms. Anthropic View Post
This one definitely goes down as one of Hana's most infamous episodes. But unlike most others, Betty Stove and others who didn't normally indulge Hana in her outbursts, took her side on this one.
I don't blame Pam at all. If you've ever observed Pam up close, she has a general policy of never giving a point away. Even with Martina, who could be very generous with giving away calls out of fairness, the players just know that Pam is going to go by the calls. So everyone knew that Pam wasn't going to give that point away.
But it wasn't just that one call, it was a series of calls and over rules going against the same player. It also wasn't about just this tournament, but a continuation of player complaints about the quality of officiating at this event from the previous spring. I mean, when Manuela Maleeva gets so upset that she smashes her racquet and elicits a code violation, you know something is wrong with the officiating.
At the March event, Hana had a meltdown while defeating Chris. She got robbed on a few calls which was disappointing because she actually gave away a call to Chris that gave Chris an early break point. There was a net judge in particular that felt the need to stir things up with Hana by constantly whispering to the chair umpire, who was not strong enough in handling the situation. Hana should've calmed down and asked to have that net judge removed, and the umpire should've complied. Instead, he allowed the situation to escalate to the point that Hana actually smacked a ball at the woman, not justified but still ...
After the match, the net judge actually stepped towards Hana as if to fight. I can't imagine an official doing that to Martina or Chris or anyone else for that matter. She should've just walked away like the other officials did.
All of this led to a move to professionalize officiating in womens tennis, as had already begun on the men's side. As long as humans are involved, mistakes are going to happen and, I suppose, personality clashes too. But what was happening in New York was just unbelievable at this level.
|Apr 8th, 2015 03:43 PM|
Originally Posted by louloubelle View Post
I'm sure you read, in her book, where Hana flew to Chile with Virginia Wade to play in an exhibition. The only problem there is that Chile was on the list of countries that Czechs were banned from visiting. She got into a lot of trouble with Cyril Suk over that. The Czechs always felt that they had given Hana "the kitchen sink" yet she still felt the need to bend the rules.
You can see where when other Czech players had their troubles with Cyril, this could carry over into their relations with Helena. She is kind of in a no win situation there.
As with Sanchez, Helena's doubles partnerships always ended kind of messily, including with each other. I don't know why that is, but I suspect it's not a coincidence. Though I've seen where Helena had good relations with other players like Martina, Steffi, Gaby, and Pam.
Hana and Helena eventually reconciled. There are some pics of Hana as Helena's Fed Cup and Olympic coach in 1996. Today, they are pictured together frequently at various reunions looking very friendly. Like most players, I think when they retire and move on to different lives they tend to lay down their swords.
|Apr 8th, 2015 10:55 AM|
Originally Posted by HanaFanGA View Post
Helena seemed to be a strange sort with her fellow countrywomen. She had a tumultuous relationship with Jana Novotna. Dumping her as a doubles partner, for what Helena said was bad behaviour on court, whereas Jana felt it was jealously that her singles results were progressively getting better than Helena's. There was also a few ties in which they played on the same team in FC but refused to play doubles with each other. They lost a decisive FC doubles rubber to Australia in 1992 because of this.
|Apr 7th, 2015 03:44 AM|
Here are some rare pics from the 1986 Fed Cup in Prague, including pics of Hana and her Yonex racket.
|Apr 7th, 2015 03:27 AM|
Originally Posted by Ms. Anthropic View Post
I'm singling out this article because it points out that the Czechs didn't root for Martina over Hana, as was widely reported by our media. It kind of shows that as much as the Communists distorted for propaganda reasons, our media wasn't above doing it either, especially when it came to "juicing up" a great story.
Now that most of the match between Martina and Hana is available, the Czechs were a very fair crowd, much like the Australians are. There is no doubt that they were excited to see not only Martina, but Chris as well. They were vere sporting and appreciative of good tennis, no matter who it came from. But when the chips were down, the Czechs rooted for Hana, as confirmed by Martina herself in Cindy Schmerler's "World Tennis" article from 1986.
Hana looked irritated probably because she let the pressure of the moment get to her. She was up 40-0 on her serve to send the first set into a tie break before double faulting twice, and then again on set point. After that, Martina relaxed and just started hitting winners playing outstanding tennis. The crowd, rightfully so, cheered spectacular shotmaking.
It's disappointing that Hana's speech at the opening ceremony got pretty much no coverage here in the U.S. She was so often criticized for not being a good sport, but Hana actually defied orders from government officials by announcing Martina's name in public during her speech. Martina later said that she winced when Hana said her name because she knew she would get into trouble about it. She also paid proper respect by mentioning Chris, who was very popular in Czechoslovakia just as she was every where in the world. As much heat as Hana took from the American media, it would've been more than fair to have reported this and given Hana just a little bit of credit.
Judy Nelson, of all people, mentioned this in her book praising Hana for being so brave. And it did cost Hana dearly, as she already had bad relations with both Helena Sukova and her father, the Czech Tennis Fed head, Cyril Suk. To punish Hana, the Czechs concocted a new ranking system that combined singles and doubles results which was enough to make Helena their new #1 player. The state press' coverage of Hana turned very sour downplaying Hana's successes in favor of Helena. All of this was absurd as, at that point, Helena had only beaten Hana once out of nine tries.
Then there is Hana's odd wedding. At the time, it did seem like a convenient way to defect without getting into trouble. But as late as 2001, Hana still denies that her marriage was a sham. She said that she was in love with Jan and that she got pregnant in 1987. Officially, Hana spent much of the spring of that year injured with a stomach muscle pull and a heel that needed medical attention. But now we know that she actually missed Wimbledon due to being pregnant and presumably having an abortion. She also pointed out that had she wanted to defect by marrying a westerner, she would have accepted the marriage proposal of Nigel Sears, the British player who went into coaching players like Daniela Hantuchova.
Lastly, there is Hana's crazy decision to switch rackets at this Fed Cup. She actually played with a Yonex R-32. By the US Open, she had switched back to her trusty Wilson Ultra II. The racket was complete with Yonex stenciling and markings.
There was never before nor ever since been a Fed Cup that has been as wild or controversial or covered like the 1986 Prague event. Given that, I suppose that I should not have been surprised to find out during that tournament that Hana had an aunt named Elvira. Elvira - doesn't sound Czech to me!
|Mar 31st, 2014 04:53 PM|
The seed of "Hard Courts" is planted here.
They are rich, famous and are worshipped Tennis players are considered most spoiled group of athletes
The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 9, 1986
Boris Becker, child multi-millionaire, walked off the dusty clay court at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills that hot Sunday afternoon in a sour mood. He had just lost a doubles match that he had not been that eager to play. His wrist ached slightly. And, as he walked through the metal gate leading from the court to the path that would take him to the locker room, he was met by a human swarm.
Some wanted autographs. Others wanted his picture. A few had notebooks and wanted to fill them with Becker's wisdom. Several had microphones. Becker had seen all this before. Most of the time he is gracious with autograph seekers, patient with the media. Not this time.
"No, no, not now," he said, pushing his way through the crowd. "I have to go."
Could he sign just a few? Could he talk for just a minute?
"NO!" he thundered and charged off.
Fly first class
It was not the lost match or the aching wrist that was making Becker uptight. He was late for a plane. The last New York to Rome flight was leaving in less than an hour and if Becker didn't catch it he would have to wait 16 hours for the next one. Since he had a match in Rome in 36 hours losing 16 was not an appealing thought. Most people would not have even thought about catching an international flight in so short a time. Couldn't be done. But Becker had a limousine waiting for him at the locker-room door and airline officials waiting to whisk him through the airport. Airlines take care of celebrities - especially celebrities who always fly first class.
And so he pushed his way through the crowd, unable to understand why people couldn't understand his problem. And the people being pushed had trouble understanding why an 18-year-old millionaire with the world at his beck-and-call, should be in such a lousy mood on a gorgeous spring afternoon.
It is almost impossible for most mortals who cannot wield a tennis racket as if it were a magic wand, to comprehend the lifestyles of the rich and famous people who own this game. Last year when Ivan Lendl lost the Wimbledon final to Becker he went directly from the All-England Club to Heathrow Airport, boarded The Concorde and was home in his Greenwich, Conn., mansion six hours after accepting the runner-up trophy from the Duke of Kent. Most of the reporters covering the tournament were still on the grounds at Wimbledon when Lendl drove through the gates of the estate known in the tennis world as Fort Lendl because it is so heavily guarded.
What makes Lendl's journey so remarkable is that in the world of tennis it is quite unremarkable. Lendl, Becker, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert Lloyd lead rock-star lives. Not only are they so rich that they can travel in any style they choose, they are so famous that they are given white-glove treatment wherever they go.
Last night, when the tennis season officially ended with the final of The Nabisco Masters Tournament, Lendl walked away with a top prize of $210,000 for six days' work. That doesn't include bonus money and is typical of the extraordinary prize money the top players take home. The prize money figure ( Navratilova won almost $2 million this year) doesn't even begin to touch the money these people make for endorsements, exhibitions, clinics and appearances. The figures are staggering. But so are the lives The Names lead. Theirs is a world of Ask and Ye Shall Always Receive.
Tennis players are the most spoiled group of athletes in the world. Baseball, football and basketball players ride buses as teenagers; tennis players take the Concorde. In no other sport do the athletes train by traveling to Paris, London, Sydney, Athens, Tokyo and New York. In no other sport do the athletes look up and see the Queen of England, the Duke of Kent, the Princess of Wales, all of them decked out in their flowery summer-best, breathlessly watching their every move. Or, if they're in New York rather than London, they settle for vice-president George Bush, King of Comedy Johnny Carson, Queen of Soaps Linda Evans or Sultan of Splat Chevy Chase.
That's not to mention the groupies. At Wimbledon, there is something called, "The Viewing Lane," outside the locker room. Quite literally, it is an area set up for people to stand and gawk as the players come and go. In no sport do the groupies dress like tennis groupies. If a woman - or teen-age girl - doesn't look like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine, she isn't going to get a second look. Many of them do step out of fashion magazines panting for a date with a tennis player. McEnroe married an actress; Connors a Playmate; Wilander a model. Evert dated a president's son and Burt Reynolds, and admitted to an extra-marital affair with a rock star in the second autobiography she wrote before age 31. Does any of this sound real?
Last fall, Connors and Lendl were both scheduled to play in a tournament in Sydney, Australia. Both asked for - and received - 24-hour postponements in their first-round matches. This is routinely done for top players. Connors was scheduled to arrive in Sydney on a Tuesday morning flight. A horde of media awaited him since he had not played in Sydney for several years. But at the last minute, Connors delayed his arrival saying that his wife was ill. But it was too late to get word to the waiting media.
In the meantime, Lendl had boarded the flight Connors had been booked on. When he learned about the Connors welcoming committee, Lendl panicked. An unscheduled press conference? No, no, no. Get me out of here, Lendl told the airline. Naturally, he was accommodated, letting him avoid the press by going through a back door on the jetway.
For most top players, this kind of treatment begins at a very early age. These days, agents and coaches blanket promising talent by the time a player is 14 or 15. They wine and dine the teenager and his or her family and tell them in detail all the wonderful things they will do for them. Tennis parents are like stage parents. They see stars and they see dollar signs. They see their own blunted dreams coming true through their children. They live through their children.
Often the agents who come calling on the star-struck parents deliver what they promise. Jimmy Arias and Aaron Krickstein, neither of whom has ever won a title more prestigious than the U.S. Clay Courts (Arias, once) were millionaires long before their 20th birthday. Krickstein hasn't even reached his yet.
At 16, Krickstein reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open. He immediately became the subject of an intense fight to sign him between the sport's two major management groups. Krickstein signed with one, then was wooed away by the other when his contract expired. Krickstein has never reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament, his ranking has dropped steadily for the last two years and now, at 19, people wonder if he will crack the Top Ten again. But his agent sees almost every match he plays and Krickstein, who does not have a high school diploma, is wealthier than 99 per cent of the world's college graduates will ever be.
The top players' agents become virtual babysitters for their stars. For many years, Gerry Solomon, Lendl's long-time agent, actually carried Lendl's racquets to and from the locker room for him at major events. He was snidely referred to by some as the world's best-paid valet. Evert used to walk the grounds at the U.S. Open with Lynda (Wonder Woman) Carter trailing in her wake. No one can remember Carter's being asked for an autograph. Next to Evert, one of the most glamorous stars in television was suddenly invisible.
Because tennis players are so wealthy they can routinely afford to have traveling entourages as large as they want. Navratilova travels with her coach, Mike Estep and his wife, Barbara; her friend Judy Nelson and, often, Nelson's two children and her parents. Navratilova has made almost $12 million in prize money alone; why not have as many people with her as she chooses? At the U.S. Open each year, Evert flies in her chef from London to cook for her family and friends. McEnroe has never been one for entourages, but last fall when he and Bjorn Borg played a seven-city exhibition tour, he and Borg each had a Lear jet that flew them from site to site.
They are worshipped
They are rich, they are famous and they are worshipped. What people often fail to understand is that even below the rock-star level, tennis players are welcomed to each city they play in like MacArthur returning to the Philippines. They are greeted at the airport by courtesy drivers (often doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers or the like taking a week off from work) who carry their bags to their courtesy car (usually a corporate sponsor of the tournament) and are driven either to their hotel or a private home where they are spending the week.
People line up for the privilege of turning their houses over to tennis players for a week. Not just to the superstars. Tennis is very much a sport for the wealthy; a recent survey done by one men's tournament revealed that the median annual income of the fans in attendance was $89,000 - and those who hack away at the game like nothing more than to brag to their friends about having some tennis player stay in their house for a few days. You want my house? Take it. My pool? It's yours. Anything else? You got it.
During the Association of Tennis Professional's annual tournament in Cincinnati each player in the draw is provided with the free use of a car, free lodging (that is not uncommon around the world), free golf and a week of entertainment. A story about this year's tournament carried in the players weekly newspaper, while noting that the tournament was well run, suggested several ways to improve conditions next year - perhaps limousines, for example.
The rock stars don't have to bother staying in other people's houses - they stay at home. Evert stays at her own house in London during Wimbledon; Navratilova stayed in her Trump Tower condo during the U.S. Open in New York. Both settle for suites at the Plaza D'Athene in Paris. That hotel is so upper crust that morning joggers are instructed to come and go through a side door so as not to ruin the atmosphere of the Just-So lobby with their running outfits - even if the running outfits were bought at Gucci.
They are exceptions
Tennis players become comfortable in this unreal world, accustomed to being told by Greats how great they are. No wonder they posture and whine when a call goes against them on the court. Wait a minute, don't you know who I am? I could buy and sell you. And they could.
To lump all the players together is unfair. The women, as a rule, are much less enamored of themselves than the men. And among the men, people like Becker (when not running for a plane), Henri Leconte, Tim Wilkison, Paul Annacone, Bud Schultz and a number of others are gracious, warm people. But they are exceptions.
Most tennis players come a lot closer to being like Lendl, who complained so bitterly about the interview room's being 100 yards away from the locker room at a tournament last year that the interview room was moved to accommodate him.
But why shouldn't tennis players expect that kind of treatment? It has been given to them almost as a birthright. At an age when most kids are trying to work up the nerve to ask a girl to the senior prom, Becker stood on centre court at Wimbledon and traded jokes with the Duchess of Kent. Becker, the Duke and the Duchess had a lovely chuckle together.
And why not? Royalty, after all, understands royalty.
|Mar 29th, 2014 05:14 PM|
1986 Virginia Slims Championship
Martina Navratilova stamped her ownership on the court at Madison Square Garden. The world's No. 1 woman player cruised to her fourth straight Virginia Slims Championship by dominating Steffi Graf in the best-of-five-sets final and collected a staggering $US428,657 for a week's work out of a total purse of $US 1 million.
"This title was very satisfying in the light of the rest of the year," said Martina. "I've come through some tough matches and to cap it off with this ... I'm thrilled. It's fantastic."
The final was a repeat of the US Open semi-final clash only two months before. Graf and Navratilova had played five times previously, with Martina holding a 4-1 lead in victories. But at the Open, Steffi held three match points, while in their match before that, at Berlin, she beat Navratilova comfortably.
The first set this time was close. Both women turned on a display of their serving ability, with only one game going to deuce. Steffi was playing her groundstrokes freely, but Martina always came up with a putaway volley
to keep things on an even keel.
They went to a tiebreak, in which Navratilova led 3-0 before Graf levelled. Then it was a seesaw struggle - until a service ace from the top seed sealed the set by 8 points to 6. Martina raced to a 4-1 lead in the second set. She had moved into another gear and once that happens it is almost impossible to stop her. Errors were creeping into Graf's game and her backhand was letting her down at crucial stages.
"All the match, my return didn't work so well," said Steffi. "I hit some shots in the first set I should have made and didn't. Maybe if I'd won the first set it could have been closer, but Martina was playing good tennis."
Being a lefty, Navratilova used her slice serve to advantage, making it swing away from Graf, who became confused with her opponent's tactics of mixing up deliveries and sometimes staying back on the second serve. Soon, the second set was over 6-3 and Martina began to feel more relaxed.
"I think it would have been tight if I'd lost the first set," she said. "But having won it, it became the most important set. I came through on the big points, and I knew now was the time to win it."
Graf had begun to tire mentally and physically. It had been "too good and too long" a year. She has played a lot of tennis, winning eight singles and five doubles titles, and this took its toll. She was not on top of her game.
Occasionally, you can still see the school girl in her vying with the professional. She lives for tennis - and to win. But though she kept on trying, her efforts were of no avail as Martina pounded every return back into play. Not once did the champion face a break point on her own serve.
After the close matches they had played, it was important for Martina to show who was still boss. This she did by breaking serve twice in the third set to wrap up the final 6-2, and extend her match-winning streak to 53. (She is unbeaten since the French Open.) As often is the case, the semi-finals provided most of the drama, with the clash between Navratilova and her close friend and doubles partner, Pam Shriver, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats.
Navratilova took the first set 6-2, but Shriver shook off her tenseness and levelled the match 6-4 before breaking serve for 3-1 in the final set. The "Clown Princess of Tennis" was playing her best tennis for years. Ironically, her improvement followed comments by Navratilova at the US Open about Pam and her potential.
These have given Pam a new outlook. She was playing with authority, and concern was etched on Navratilova's face. Then an incident on court changed the atmosphere. Martina went for a shot and mistakenly called "out" at the same time. This disturbed Shriver, who had a tense discussion with umpire Judy Popkin. The umpire was adamant the call had not been a distraction, and Navratilova promptly broke serve and won the third set 6-4.
Pam had played brilliantly to upset the third seed, Hana Mandlikova, again after a slow start. A controversial line-call in the second set put Hana into a raging temper and she all but gave up the fight, allowing Shriver victory 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. At the end, Hana was still so livid she flicked a piece of paper at the umpire.
Meanwhile, Graf had accounted for Sukova in their semi-final, 7-6, 3-6, 6-1, by powering her forehand past the 6 feet Czech, who was left in a daze.
In the quarter-finals, Steffi played Manuela Maleeva. Once again a contested line-call left a bitter taste and once again Popkin was in the chair. It was a poor match and this was the only point that brought the crowd to life. They loudly booed the decision that went against Maleeva as the tearful Bulgarian stormed off the court after losing 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. At the post-match press conference, she emotionally claimed: "I have been cheated. It's difficult realising they are cheating you."
Wendy Turnbull was disappointed at not making the singles draw, but with Mandlikova she reached the doubles semi-finals, where Navratilova and Shriver beat them 1-6, 6-1, 6-1 before going on to take the title with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Claudia Kohde-Kilsch and Sukova.
So Martina Navratilova ended the year supreme once more. "It's been a great year," she said, "winning the Slims twice and Wimbledon and the US Open. I have played some memorable matches. Going back to Czechoslovakia and going through an emotional time there. Finding my dog when he was lost.
"It's been a year to remember."
|Mar 29th, 2014 05:12 PM|
1986 Virginia Slims Championships
1987 ITF Yearbook
When Martina Navratilova completed the modern Grand Slam in Paris in 1984, there were those with long memories and an acute sense of tennis history who were convinced she had lifted women's tennis to standards which surpassed even those of the legendary Suzanne Lenglen. When, last November, at Madison Square Garden, the still supremely dominant Miss Navratilova won her fourth successive Virginia Slims Championships title and her seventh circuit title in nine years, her own verdict was: 'The way I'm playing now, I'd have beaten the Martina of two years ago in straight sets.' While ending 1986 with nine consecutive titles and an unbeaten run of 53 matches since the Paris final, not to mention her emotional Federation Cup triumph in between, Miss Navratilova looked more than ever the best player in the world.
She arrived in New York under considerable pressure - and in urgent need of dentistry after losing a filling the day before. Certainly she did not have to worry about Chris Evert Lloyd, for the last of the three opponents who had beaten Miss Navratilova during 1986 was still nursing a knee injury. There was, however, the uncomfortable prospect of a first-round tussle against Catarina Lindqvist, the Swedish girl against whom she had been forced to fend off four match-points in Stuttgart a few weeks earlier. In addition there was the knowledge that everyone was willing a showdown for her in the final against Steffi Graf, by common consent the lady-in-waiting for top honours, who had held three match-points against the World Champion at Flushing Meadow in September.
The only stage at which Miss Navratilova appeared remotely vulnerable was in the semi-final against her doubles partner, Pam Shriver. Trailing 1-3 in the final set, she became the beneficiary of yet another in a long line of controversial decisions that marred the week. She then went on to win by far the most exciting match of the tournament and one of the best of the year.
The one disappointing feature of an otherwise successful week, which drew a record total attendance for a women's event of 90,576, was the quality of officiating. The fact that for the opening days there was not a full complement of linesmen (surely unforgivable for an event of this stature with only one court being used) was partly responsible, but tournament referee Lee Jackson also blamed the light blue colour of the court for some of the mistakes which she described as 'terrible'. 'The trouble is that the colour becomes glary under the lights, highly reflective, and it makes one drowsy. It makes me drowsy on the sideline so you can imagine how it affects the umpire and linespersons.'
There were no such problems in the first match when Manuela Maleeva advanced 6-4 6-1 over the American, Melissa Gurney, who has been guided by the same coach (Robert Lansdorp) and emerged from the same baselining mould as Tracy Austin, right down to that rather stooped two-handed backhand so characteristic of the former winner of the women's circuit. Miss Gurney led 3-1 before Miss Maleeva started to take charge, mainly through her greater consistency; but in these days when the all-court players are coming so much more into their own, it was distressing to hear her say that, at 19, she feels it is too late for her to start developing a serve-and-volley game.
Bettina Bunge, continuing her impressive second half of the year, was too consistently aggressive for Kathy Rinaldi and won 7-5 6-4. In the second session, Pam Shriver demonstrated the extra freedom, control and topspin she had developed on the backhand by dismissing the erratic Raffaella Reggi, 6-3 6-1. Continuing the first round, Miss Navratilova immediately showed her powerful command by overwhelming Miss Lindqvist 6-3 6-0. 'I wanted to show her how well I could play', she said later, with Stuttgart in mind. After she had broken for 3-2 in the first set, she performed with great authority, especially at the net and overhead. And as if that was not enough Miss Lindqvist, who admittedly did not play well, was further dismayed when she was broken to 0-2 in the second set by a backhand so deep over the baseline that she made no attempt to play the ball, which was called good. The pleasant, always friendly girl from Malmo accepted it philosophically: 'Maybe the umpire and linesmen didn't have a good day either.'
Also in the first round, Hana Mandlikova ousted Terri Phelps, who was playing in the Championships for the first time, 6-2 6-4, after holding points for 5-1 in the second set. Helena Sukova collected a 6-4 6-4 win over a nervous, predictable Gabriela Sabatini who overhit too often; Claudia Kohde-Kilsch beat Zina Garrison 6-3 7-5, after the Houston girl had served for the second set at 5-4; and Miss Graf wobbled quite alarmingly for a time before her gritty determination carried her through 7-5 4-6 6-2 against Miss Garrison's fellow-product of John Wilkerson's Houston public parks programme, Lori McNeil.
Miss McNeil, whose ranking had soared during 1986, made an exciting start, more than matching Miss Graf's forehand and cleverly chipping service returns with a care and thought which tested the West German's patience, as well as her resolve. Yet when leading 5-3 in the first set, she momentarily lost her nerve. Miss Graf seized upon the opportunity to break back and dropped only six more points in the set. Then in the third, when it was most needed, Miss Graf struck quickly with just enough of her finest returns to give her two match-winning breaks in the first and third games.
The quarter-finals began on both an exciting and explosive note. For a set and a half, through to 6-4 4-1, Miss Mandlikova produced her most inspired, exhilarating and extravagant tennis against Miss Shriver. She was magical to watch, with perfectly controlled low volleys, wonderful wristy winners on both flanks and serving which at times was quite awesome, as she headed towards 15 aces. Amazingly she was also heading for defeat.
One overrule which cost her what would have been a 5-2 lead in the second set, followed by what seemed another glaring baseline mistake which enabled Miss Shriver to break back to 4-5, was more than Miss Mandlikova, with her still-brittle temper, could stomach. At various times she smashed her racket against the base of the umpire's chair, lashed the net, uttered an obscenity and generally lost her self-control. Not surprisingly she also lost the match, 4-6 7-5 6-1. When the players met at the net at the end, Pam told Hana, 'I'm sorry', but clarified that by saying 'I wasn't sorry I won ... just sorry that after getting a bad call she didn't put up an effort'. For the record, despite serving two aces to win the first game of the final set, Miss Mandlikova won only six more points before storming off saying: 'I was cheated.'
Perhaps it was as well that after so much drama, Miss Navratilova's 6-2 6-4 win in 51 minutes over Bettina Bunge was a routine affair, with the top seed holding her serve throughout and making hardly any unforced errors. The second pair of quarter-finals followed a similar pattern. One, in which Miss Sukova simply out-hit Miss Kohde-Kilsch 6-3 7-6 was suitably competitive and straightforward. The other, in which Miss Graf again struggled to find her best form before accounting for Manuela Maleeva, was turbulent and tearful, Miss Maleeva also distraught by the poor line-calls.
Two in particular were infinitely more significant than the vast majority which players should be able to shrug off. Having broken for 5-3 on the way to taking the opening set, with Miss Graf's backhand all adrift, the Bulgarian would have broken for 2-1 in the second but for a linesman's extraordinary failure to see a shot more than six inches deep on break-point. Yet the real 'killer' for Miss Maleeva, who was working frantically hard to capitalise upon Miss Graf's continued unforced errors, came when she barely played a return, knowing the previous shot to have been out. It cost her a break to 5-6, just after she had rallied from 2-4 to 4-4 and held again for 5-5.
It was somewhat ironic that, having been serenely in control while reaching the semi-finals, Miss Navratilova should find it much more difficult than the steadily improving Miss Graf to clear the last hurdle before the final. Although the first set against her doubles partner lasted only 29 minutes, with the top seed taking it 6-2, Miss Shriver, returning well, moving smartly and not afraid to go for her shots, was playing splendidly too. This impression was borne out when she broke for 5-4 in the second set with a rasping forehand drive-volley on her fifth break-point. With the set safely tucked away at 6-4, Miss Shriver was exultant. She broke in the first game of the final set, and although Miss Navratilova broke back immediately by twice finding the lines with elegant passes of her own, her poise started to falter. Miss Shriver broke again and held for 3-1. Then at deuce in the fifth game, after Miss Navratilova had done the unthinkable by double-faulting twice from 40-15, there was a freak incident which proved to be the turning point of the match. Lunging for a low volley, Miss Navratilova involuntarily called out 'higher' to herself as the ball just cleared the net, and Miss Shriver, claiming she was distracted, failed with her next return.
Miss Shriver's appeal for the point to be re-played, which almost everybody, including Miss Navratilova and her coach Mike Estep said later would have been the right decision, was refused by both the umpire and referee. Hard though she tried to put the incident out of her mind, Miss Shriver was then broken in the sixth game from 40-15 and the set ran away from her 6-4. It was a disappointing end to a magnificent match, well worthy of the occasion, during which Miss Navratilova must often have questioned her wisdom in persuading her doubles partner to revitalise her game. It almost cost her the Virginia Slims crown.
Although once more dropping a set, Miss Graf played her best tennis of the week in defeating Miss Sukova 7-6 3-6 6-1. Not only did her forehand start to look rampant once more, but also her backhand passes were now flowing effectively - so much so that one wondered if she might not be bluffing when she looked forward to the final and said: 'I'm not playing well enough to give Martina a good match.'
As it happened, she was right. Clearly jaded at the end of a year in which she had won eight singles and five doubles titles, Miss Graf none the less pressed the champion superbly through the first set. Neither player allowed the other to reach break-point and the teenager reached 6-6 with only six points against the serve, compared with 11 lost by her opponent. However, a net-cord winner for Miss Navratilova to 7-6 in the tie-break against the serve was the breaking point for Miss Graf. She had already saved two set-points, but Miss Navratilova produced an ace on the third. From then on it was largely a formality as the holder went on to win 7-6 6-3 6-2, without dropping her serve or being stretched to break-point in any game.
In the doubles final, Miss Navratilova and Miss Shriver, who had long since reconciled their differences over the dispute in their singles semi-final, were too powerfully consistent for Miss Kohde-Kilsch and Miss Sukova. The favourites won 7-6 6-3, having earlier taken revenge in the semi-finals over Miss Mandlikova and Wendy Turnbull for their rare defeat in the March finals.
|Mar 29th, 2014 05:09 PM|
From Navratilova to Sukova? : At 21, No. 6-Ranked Czech May Someday Be Battling for No. 1
November 24, 1986
Los Angeles Times
The sports world loves to put people into neat categories. Giving them labels has always been a popular, on-going national pastime.
And, professional tennis stands as one of the guilty parties. Why else would we see headlines like this:
Pigtailed Teen-aged Baseliner Wins Tournament.
Boom-Boom Becker Defeats Bobo.
Joakim Nystrom: The Silent But Deadly Swede.
But the tennis world has had difficulty categorizing Helena Sukova. Every time a label is placed on her, it falls off.
At 21, the 6-foot-2 Sukova has been on the tour since 1981, but is 10 years younger than Chris Evert Lloyd and nine years younger than Martina Navratilova.
You can't group her with the latest wave of newcomers, either. Sukova is four years older than Steffi Graf and five years older than Gabriela Sabatini.
She is Czechoslovakian, but unlike Ivan Lendl and Hana Mandlikova, Sukova actually spends some time in her native country.
Sukova plays an attacking, serve-and-volley game like Mandlikova and Navratilova. Unlike Mandlikova, though, she isn't prone to bursts of erratic shot-making. And these days, Sukova very rarely loses to someone she shouldn't lose to.
Although her game has matured a great deal in the last two years, she doesn't have Navratilova's all-around game. Then again, who does? As far as on-court temperament is concerned, Sukova won't unravel from a few bad calls. However, don't call her an ice-woman.
"I'm not real cool like (Bjorn) Borg was," she said in a telephone interview from New York. "I think I'm something middle in the road."
That about sums it up. Helena Sukova, ranked No. 6 in the world, is a middle-of-the-road tennis star.
At the Virginia Slims Championships in New York, which concluded Sunday, Sukova beat the players she was expected to beat--Sabatini and her own doubles partner Claudia Kohde-Kilsch. And while most thought Graf would beat her in the semifinals, Sukova put up a tough fight, losing, 7-6, 3-6, 6-1.
Some observers overlook Sukova when trying to make predictions about the future of women's tennis after Navratilova and Lloyd retire. They prefer to look at the promise of Graf, Sabatini and 15-year-old Mary Joe Fernandez rather than the reality of an established player such as Sukova.
Sukova, who will meet Carling Bassett tonight in an exhibition at the Forum before Lendl plays Miloslav Mecir, has reached two Grand Slam finals. Graf and Sabatini haven't reached a single Grand Slam final yet.
The Czech right-hander stopped Navratilova's winning streak of 74 matches before losing to Lloyd in the 1984 Australian Open. In the 1986 U.S. Open, Sukova beat Lloyd in straight sets in the semifinals and fell to Navratilova, 6-2, 6-3, in the final.
Sukova views the second Grand Slam final as much more important.
"I was playing well this time, much more consistently," she said.
"I was more ready to win this match than two years ago. After all that time, I finally beat her (Lloyd). This year was more important because it was now. I'm more ready for it now."
The victory over Navratilova in 1984 basically solidified Sukova's position in the top 10. She was ranked No. 25 in 1982, No. 17 in 1983 and reached No. 7 by the end of 1984.
Her easy victory against Lloyd last September established Sukova as a viable contender for No. 1. It also signaled, to some, the beginning of the end for Lloyd. One writer even went so far to call the 31-year-old Lloyd, Chris Evert L'Old.
"I was playing well," Sukova said of the match, her first victory over Lloyd. "There is always something you can do. You can put more pressure on her, come in more. But I felt I was playing well all over."
After Graf beat Lloyd for the first time last spring, she used her new-found confidence to win three more tournaments before the French Open. That streak included a victory against Navratilova in the final of the German Open.
Although Sukova didn't have a hot streak as Graf did, she continued to play solid, consistent singles and doubles.
"It helped me a little bit to get more confidence because every player knows they have a good chance to go forth after that," Sukova said. "You think, 'I can be there too.' "
With the nearing retirement of the Big Two--Navratilova and Lloyd--Sukova expects a tough fight for No. 1. At this time, Graf, Mandlikova and Sukova would appear to have the best shot.
However, in women's tennis you have to put heavy emphasis on the word would.
While there have been many possible contenders--Tracy Austin, Andrea Jaeger and Kathy Rinaldi, to name a few--none have ever stayed at the top spot for any length of time.
Sukova is aware of this.
"If you look at the top 10, the top 15, there are so many players who could make it," she said. "It is so hard to predict. Someone can look good for a while but then six months later it's different. It can change every half year. "
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