Sabatini, Martinez reach Family Circle Cup final
The Tampa Tribune
Sunday, April 5, 1992
RICK SCOPPE, The Associated Press
Gabriela Sabatini and Conchita Martinez should be comfortable with the surroundings when they play in today's final of the Family Circle Magazine Cup.
Sabatini, who beat Brenda Schultz 6-3, 6-2 in Saturday's semifinals, is the defending champion and a four-time finalist in this tournament.
Martinez, who beat fellow Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-4, 7-5, is in the final of her third consecutive tournament.
"It's going to be a tough match," Sabatini said. "She's always a tough opponent."
Sabatini is 1-1 against Martinez on clay. Sabatini, 21, beat the 19- year-old Martinez 6-1, 6-0 at the 1991 Italian Open but lost to her 6-3, 6-2 in the 1989 Eckerd Open in Largo.
Martinez had never made it past the quarterfinals in the Family Circle until this year, while Sabatini made the finals in 1985 at 14 and again in 1988. But it wasn't until last year that Sabatini was able to win the tournament, beating Leila Meskhi 6-1, 6-1.
In advancing to the finals, Sabatini showed that while power may be nice, patience often will suffice on the slower clay surface.
For all her power, Schultz, ranked 30th in the world, had problems holding serve. She was broken by the third-ranked Sabatini three times in each set, falling at love in the final game when her attempted drop shot ran into the net.
"She's been serving very well," Sabatini said. "It's very powerful. She's getting all her first serves in very consistently. So I was ready for that."
In the first semifinal, Martinez and Sanchez Vicario battled back and forth from the baseline, each waiting for the other to make a mistake.
Martinez opened the door first in both sets, but then slammed it shut by rallying from a break down in the first set and two breaks down in the second set.
"I just think you have to be patient. Don't miss," Martinez said. "When she hit a short ball, I was trying to go with my forehand and hit hard."
After breaking Sanchez Vicario at 15-40 to win the first set, Martinez suddenly found herself down 4-1 with Sanchez Vicario serving.
"I really was thinking that I was going to play three sets," Martinez said. "But I was patient and just tried to hit the ball over the net."
Martinez, ranked No. 8, got one break back, but then struggled on her serve in the next game when Sanchez Vicario, ranked fifth, had three break points. But Martinez fought back to salvage her serve and broke Sanchez Vicario to tie it at 4.
Martinez completed her stunning turnaround by breaking Sanchez Vicario at love for the match with a forehand winner.
"She played a good match," Sanchez Vicario said. "But every time I tried to finish a point, I missed the point. So we can say it was not my day. I missed easy shots that I normally don't miss."