Join Date: Jul 2012
MARTINEZ STUNS SANCHEZ, GETS FINAL SHOT AT SABATINI
The Charlotte Observer
Sunday, April 5, 1992
Gabriela Sabatini can consider herself warned.
When Conchita Martinez is happy, her coach says, she`s a dangerous tennis player. Martinez is happy these days. And today, she is Sabatini`s opponent in the championship match of the Family Circle Magazine Cup (2:30 p.m., NBC, WPCQ, channel 36).
Martinez used a blistering forehand and heap of patience Saturday to oust fellow countrywoman Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain 6-4, 7-5.
In the day`s other semifinal, Sabatini, the defending champion and world`s third-ranked player, dismissed hard-serving Brenda Schultz 6-3, 6-2.
Sabatini holds a 5-2 record against Martinez, who, like Sabatini, thrives on clay. Their styles are similar: heavy topspin, a good bit of patience and a preference for the backcourt.
Sabatini predicts a difficult match.
``She`s always a tough opponent,`` Sabatini said. ``She likes to hit that forehand very much, so I`m just going to try to play the same as I did today, and try to have control.``
Schultz approached Sabatini with a sensible game plan: keep the ball low, mix up the shots, and move Sabatini around.
But it was Sabatini who appropriated the strategy, yanking Schultz from one side of the green clay court to the other with powerful, topspin-laced strokes on both the forehand and backhand sides.
Schultz, who stands 6-2, has the most powerful serve on the women`s tour, clocked in 1990 at more than 120 mph. But its punch is negated on clay, and Sabatini handled it with ease, breaking Schultz three times in each set.
Schultz`s volley wasn`t a weapon either. She seemed reluctant to come to the net - even on short second serves.
``On clay, it`s very hard to come to the net,`` Schultz said. ``She put pressure on me at the right time. That`s her experience, I guess.``
To the computer rankings, Martinez`s win over Sanchez Vicario was an upset. But it came as less of a surprise to those who have tracked Martinez in recent weeks.
Martinez, 19, had reached two finals since the beginning of March, losing to top-ranked Monica Seles and No. 2 Steffi Graf.
She had lost nine games in three matches entering the semifinal against Sanchez Vicario, with whom she`ll play doubles in the Summer Olympics.
Sanchez Vicario opened a 3-1 lead in the first set. Then the momentum shifted.
Martinez ran down a few sneaky drop shots. And her passing shots started to click, blistering past Sanchez Vicario when she ventured to the net.
``I just tried different things because it was not possible all the time to stay back,`` Sanchez Vicario said. ``I missed some easy volleys.``
In the second set, Martinez rallied from a 1-4 deficit by staying steady, waiting for Sanchez Vicario to miss.
Serving at 5-6 in an effort to stay in the match, Sanchez Vicario sprayed two shots long and the third wide. Her final attempt - pulling Martinez wide on the forehand side - served as an invitation to a kill. Martinez ripped it down the line for a winner.
``When Conchita is happy she`s a very dangerous player,`` Martinez`s coach, Paco Lopez, said. ``And Conchita is dangerous when she is hitting with her forehand.``
Saturday`s singles semifinals: Gabriela Sabatini (1), Argentina, d. Brenda Shultz (12), Netherlands, 6-3, 6-2; Conchita Martinez (5), Spain, d. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (3), Spain, 6-4, 7-5.
Doubles semifinals: Jana Novotna, Czechoslovakia-Larisa Savchenko-Neiland, Latvia (1), d. Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, Germany-Conchita Martinez, Spain (5), 6-4, 6-4; Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Spain-Natalia Zvereva, CIS (2), d. Mary Lou Daniels-Rosalyn Fairbank-Nideffer, (7), 6-1, 6-1.