GARRISON PUSHES GRAF TO LIMIT - BUT TOP SEED IS HAPPY TO PLAY TOUGH MATCH
The Palm Beach Post - Saturday, March 7, 1992
Author: PATRICK McMANAMON
Steffi Graf beat Zina Garrison in three sets Friday in the quarterfinals of the Virginia Slims of Florida.
But it took Graf three sets after she led Garrison 6-0, 5-2 and 40-15.
"Five-two and 40-15?" Graf was asked about the 5-7 loss in the second set.
"Yeah," Graf said, rolling her eyes and putting her head in her hands, aware that it isn't often she has to go to 7-5 in the third set to win a match she dominated early.
Graf didn't like that the match went into a third set, but she said that after not playing this year until Feb. 10-16 in Chicago, she was glad to have a tough match.
"In a stupid kind of way, it's good," Graf said. "That's what I need. I said at the beginning of the tournament that I need some tough matches, and I'm glad I got one."
* Conchita Martinez reached the finals last week in Indian Wells, Calif. With the upset of Gabriela Sabatini Friday, the only player between Martinez (No. 8 in the world) and her second consecutive finals is unseeded and 61st-ranked Amanda Coetzer.
What did Martinez think when she saw Sabatini had lost?
"That I had a chance to win," Martinez said after she had defeated Barbara Rittner 6-1, 6-0. "I think I'm playing very well."
* The Polo Club usually is a pro-Sabatini crowd, but as Coetzer's upset over Sabatini proceeded, the support for Coetzer grew.
"It was pretty funny," Coetzer said.
Same with Garrison, who started to gain crowd support as she came back against Graf, a Polo Club resident.
"If you were watching somebody lose 6-0, 5-2 and 40-15, and they came back, wouldn't you start rooting for them?" Graf said.
"I think they enjoy tennis," Garrison said. "I can see why Steffi lives here. The people appreciate you; they don't nag you."
* Coetzer's win gave her a rare chance to think about winning a tournament. She reached the finals only once in 1991, losing in Puerto Rico to Julie Halard. When the tournament began, winning wasn't dominating her thoughts.
"At my level I can't really plan to win the tournament," Coetzer said.
* Matchups in today's semifinals:
Graf and Mary Joe Fernandez have played six times, with Graf winning all six. Fernandez has never won a set from Graf, but the two have played only twice the last two years.
"I'm going to have to play aggressively, like I always say," Fernandez said. "I won't beat her just getting the ball back and hitting with her."
All week players have called the Polo Club center court a slow hard court. Fernandez did not feel it would give her any advantage.
"On a fast court she can hit more winners, but on this court she can run more balls down," Fernandez said.
Martinez has played Coetzer twice, winning both on hard courts.
* Both of Friday's sessions sold out. Attendance through five days is 54,004. With three more sellouts expected today and Sunday, the tournament will draw 72,547 and shatter the attendance record of 59,783 set last year.