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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
TENNIS; Graf Beats Evert For Lipton Title
New York Times
March 27, 1988
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla., March 26— Forget the tentative Steffi Graf who was beaten by Gabriela Sabatini two weeks ago in Boca Raton and lost more points off her vaunted forehand than she won with it. Forget the up-and-down 18-year-old West German player who struggled with her game here in the early rounds of the $2.1 million, two-week Lipton International Players Championships.
Today in the final, Graf played like the world's top-ranked female tennis player, which she is. She beat Chris Evert, 6-4, 6-4, in a match she dominated from the start. Though it took 1 hour 40 minutes, a long day for her, her power overcame Evert's finesse and wore down the 33-year-old local favorite. On the Baseline
The 12,000 seats at the International Tennis Center were jammed on an afternoon in which the temperature neared 90 degrees at the airport and 120 on the concrete court. For the third straight year, Graf and Evert were meeting in the final here. Evert won in 1986, Graf in 1987. Their career series now is tied at 6-6, with Evert winning the first six matches and Graf everything since.
Graf earned $112,500, Evert $56,250. Similar purses await the winner of the men's final Sunday between top-seeded Mats Wilander of Sweden and second-seeded Jimmy Connors.
Among the women, Graf was seeded first and Evert second. Graf stayed at the baseline and belted crunching topspin forehands and mostly sliced but fast backhands. Evert generally stayed at the baseline and caressed the ball rather than punish it. It was Graf the puncher against Evert the counterpuncher.
The first set went to 4-4 before Graf broke Evert and served out the set. In the second set, Graf was leading, 3-1, when Evert's crosscourt backhand was called good. Graf stared in horror at the line umpire, complained to the chair umpire and, she said later, could not concentrate for two games.
Evert won that game and broke Graf in the next, tying the score at 4-4. In the next game, Evert saved 2 break points. Then her forehand approach was long, her drop shot hit the net and Graf had the decisive service break.
''It was a good match,'' said Graf, ''a lot of fight in it. But I think I can play better.''
In seven matches over two weeks, Graf did not lose a set. But last year, in this tournament, she played better. She routed Martina Navratilova in 57 minutes in the semifinals and Evert in 58 minutes in the final. Graf Strong at Finish
''I'm disappointed I lost today,'' said Evert, ''but I'm not devastated like I was last year when I got blown off the court. The way she had been beating me, before I could think about beating her I had to stay with her.
''I had my chances, but she's definitely playing the pressure points better than I am. She's stronger than I am, faster than I am and moved better than I did. It's hard to know what to do against her.''
Graf's strength told as she won the last three games of the match.
''In those games,'' said Evert, ''I kept hitting to her backhand and she kept hitting it back lower and lower. That's when her best tennis came out. I thought her backhand was better than her forehand, which is uncharacteristic.''
Evert was pleased with the way she played and Graf was more or less pleased with her game.
''I needed to win this tournament for myself to get confidence for the next tournament,'' said Graf.
John Fitzgerald of Australia and Anders Jarryd of Sweden upset top-seeded Ken Flach and Robert Seguso of Sebring, Fla., 7-6, 6-1, 7-5, in the men's doubles final. . . . Graf's victory raised her career earnings to $2,200,274 and moved her past Helena Sukova into sixth place in career earnings.