Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
Actually, March 3, 1988 was all of these players lucky day, because, while not mentioned in this article, some lunatic went on a shooting rampage in San Antonio, just about right in front of the hotel where many of them were staying. In particular Silke Meier and her coach had a "brown pants" moment.
McNeil and Graf to meet in semifinals
Friday, MARCH 4, 1988
SAN ANTONIO - Lori McNeil and Katerina Maleeva should mark down March 3 as their lucky day and, a year from now, make some investments.
Both had every opportunity to lose in the quarterfinals of the Lynda Carter-Maybelline U.S. National Hardcourt Championships at McFarlin Tennis Center.
But their lucky stars prevailed.
Maleeva of Bulgaria, the fourth seed, gained the semifinals with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Etsuko Inoue of Japan while McNeil, the third seed from Houston, edged Natalia Zvereva of the Soviet Union 3-6, 7-3, 7-5.
McNeil will meet No. 1 seeded Steffi Graf of West Germany and Maleeva will go against the No. 2 seed, Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia, in the semifinals today.
The final will be televised Saturday at 11 a.m. (Ch. 11).
Graf gained the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Nathalie Tauziat of France and Sukova whipped Patty Fendick of La Jolla, Calif., 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).
Graf, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, has not lost a set nor more than three games in a set in her three matches here.
"I don't think I was patient enough today. It wasn't too good and I know I play much better," Graf said. "Playing someone like McNeil will be much tougher, definitely."
Neither McNeil nor Maleeva felt they had played their best tennis in the quarters.
"I could have played better," Maleeva said. "I made some errors out there that made it closer."
McNeil and Graf will be meeting for the first time since the semifinals of the U.S. Open when McNeil missed a volley at the net on break point at 4-4 in the third set. A break would have given McNeil a 5-4 advantage and the opportunity to serve for the match.
But McNeil declined to comment on the match today as revenge.
"I'll keep trying to be as aggressive as possible with as few mistakes as possible," McNeil said.
The match got off to a bad start for McNeil as she was broken by the fifth-seeded Zvereva in the second game and never at 2 was able to even the score. In the second set McNeil led 5-1 with breaks in the fourth and sixth games and served out after being broken in the seventh game.
She won eight straight points - in the final game of the second set and the first game of the third - before her backhand and serve faltered.
Zvereva broke back in the second game but was broken in the fifth and seventh games as McNeil moved to a 5-2 lead. McNeil was broken in the eighth and 10th games and suddenly they were tied at 5. But McNeil broke back and then held her serve at love.
"She (Zverera) can play better, much better," said Olga Morozova, coach of the Soviet team. "There were seven or eight games where she had a chance and couldn't close the door. She lost because she didn't have enough depth in her game.
"In London (where she beat McNeil on grass at Wimbledon) she played much deeper and she didn't give her a chance to come to the net.
"Natalia gave her a chance to play well. She was not playing her way, but the way Lori wanted her to play."
McNeil admitted that she wasn't playing her best.
"There were some things that I did well. I'm approaching well and I'm volleying well," McNeil said.
In the final match of the night, the No. 1-seeded doubles teams of McNeil and Sukova defeated Maleeva-Leila Meskhi 6-2, 6-2 to move into the semifinals.