MARTINEZ STAYS A BIT LONGER SHE BEATS RITTNER, WON'T MEET SABATINI
Sun-Sentinel - Saturday, March 7, 1992
Author: JIM SARNI
BOCA RATON -- Conchita Martinez lasted one round at the Virginia Slims of Florida last year. Claudia Porwik stopped the Spaniard in her first match.
Martinez returned this year, and all she sees are green lights. She defeated Barbara Rittner 6-1, 6-0 Friday night to earn a berth in this afternoon's semifinal against Amanda Coetzer.
Martinez, the fourth seed, figured she would have to play defending champion Gabriela Sabatini, but Coetzer and the cramps took care of that.
"I had a chance, but I have a better chance now," Martinez said.
All the attention has been on the Big Three of Sabatini, Steffi Graf and Mary Joe Fernandez, but Martinez has lost fewer games -- 12 -- than anyone.
"I'm playing well and feeling very comfortable," she said. "Last year, I didn't start the year very well."
Martinez is rolling through the doubles with her partner Linda Harvey-Wild as well. They meet Meredith McGrath and Rennae Stubbs in this afternoon's semifinal.
-- Martinez drew the afternoon semifinal because she is also playing doubles. The tournament did not think it would be fair for Martinez to play singles and doubles in the night session, then have to come back for Sunday afternoon's final (if she wins).
-- Mary Joe Fernandez led Nathalie Tauziat 6-4, 5-2, but she did not let up. She saw what happened to Steffi Graf.
"This is the game you have to win," said Fernandez, who closed out the match in the next game. "I wasn't going to fool around. People may not recognize all the names, but everyone is a good player. There are no easy matches anymore."
Fernandez faces Graf for the first time since losing in the semifinals at Wimbledon last summer.
"I played a good match at Wimbledon," said Fernandez, who is 0-6 against Graf. "For the first time, I felt I could give her some trouble. The more you play someone, the better your chance."
Fernandez said that the serve will be the key to tonight's match: "Mine and hers. Steffi has a big serve and it's hard to break, but the court here is pretty slow."
-- Who is Amanda Coetzer?
The 20-year-old South African reached the quarterfinals here two years ago before losing to Mary Joe Fernandez 6-0, 6-1.
Coetzer is only 5 feet 2, but she covers the court well and plays without nerves.
"I wasn't nervous against Sabatini," she said. "I knew I could only enjoy it."