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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 02:02 PM   #2961
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Let me point out the women's singles final was played the day after the men's singles final. Scheduled that way long in advance.

OLYMPICS '88 - Graf adds a gold to tennis treasures
Houston Chronicle
Saturday, OCTOBER 1, 1988
Andrew Warshaw, The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea - Steffi Graf climbed a tennis pedestal all her own and said the view was "amazing.''

The 19-year-old West German captured the Olympic women's singles title in the same dominating fashion she displayed in sweeping the four major professional championships.

Normally a paragon of modesty, the tennis star showed some pride in her unprecedented achievement.

"I am very excited. I think it's something that not many people after me will achieve, winning the Grand Slam first and the gold medal afterward,'' Graf said. "That's amazing.

"I came here feeling tired and not expecting too much of myself. I was just hoping to get through here, so it is really amazing."

Graf won the tennis title in 1984 at Los Angeles, when it was a demonstration sport. This time, it was for real, and so was Steffi, sweeping aside Gabriela Sabatini 6-3, 6-3.

Sabatini won the silver, Argentina's first Olympic medal in 16 years. "For my country, it means very much," Sabatini said. "For a long time, we could not win a medal. I feel very happy to be the one."

Zina Garrison of the United States and Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria, the losing semifinalists, each won a bronze.

Graf has won more than $3 million in her young career, but the money isn't gold.

"The money does not matter,'' Graf said. "It is something I did not think about at all.''

Graf, who has lost only two of 68 matches this year, both times to Sabatini, spotted her rival an early 3-2 lead on the hardcourt at Olympic Park before winning 15 of the last 16 points in the opening set.

Graf lost the first three points of last night's match with three straight errors on serve, then hit her stride.

She saved all three break points, two of them with dashing forehand winners, and immediately got to work on Sabatini.

"I had a very good feeling after the first three or four games," said Graf. "I was feeling very comfortable. I was making her run around and I thought she won't be able to keep it up."

Sabatini, who said she was ready to run her legs off to avenge her U.S. Open defeat and take the gold medal, had to do just that. But it did no good.

She tried to force the play, but lacked Graf's power or accuracy. Sabatini could not have realized just how much of a pounding her legs would take.

By the end, Sabatini was stretching not only for Graf's devastating forehand, but also for a well-executed slice backhand and deft drop shots.

"She played much better than the last time I played her," Sabatini said. "She did not make many mistakes with her forehand. I had a chance in the first set and then . . . I had to run after a lot of balls. I got tired."

Graf won the match with a forehand service return down the middle that Sabatini could only lunge at.

The match lasted 1 hour, 21 minutes and made Graf the first women's Olympic gold medalist in tennis since Helen Wills of the United States in 1924 and the first player to win an Olympic title and the Grand Slam.

Tennis returned to the Olympic Games as a demonstration sport four years ago in Los Angeles, when Graf won the women's singles.

But this was a far more significant triumph. Not only was the Slam and the gold a first of its kind, but Graf surged to her Olympic title through a very strong field.

With the exception of second-ranked Martina Navratilova, who passed up the Games, the women's field included the other seven top women's players in the world. Graf swept through with the loss of just one set, to Larisa Savchenko in the quarterfinals.

The triumph marked Graf's 40th consecutive match victory and her 14th victory in 16 matches over her teen-age rival, Sabatini.

Sabatini and Graf stayed on serve through four games, when Sabatini broke for a 3-2 lead as Graf netted a forehand.

Graf broke right back and quickly wrapped up the set. She ripped through the last four games of the set, losing only two of the last 16 points. Sabatini never got a break after that.

Sabatini's last lead was on serve at 2-1 in the second set. Graf broke for a 3-2 lead, then saved two break points to hold for 4-2 and again for a 5-3 lead. She saved both games the same way - a drop shot, followed by a blistering forehand pass.

Graf then broke for the match.

Graf said she began feeling confident after the third game of the match but did not know she had it won until reaching 5-3 in the final set.

"I tried from the beginning to go from her forehand to her backhand, and once in a while throw in a drop shot in between and a hard shot when I got a chance. That was my tactic," Graf said. "That was my plan and it worked out well."

Graf, meanwhile, said she's not through making history.

"I don't have any motivation problems," she said. "There are many tournaments coming up. Next year is a different year, and I'm going to try to go for everything again."

In the women's doubles, Zina Garrison of Houston and Pam Shriver teamed for a 4-6, 6-2, 10-8 win for the United States over Helena Sukova and Jana Novotna of Czechoslovakia.

Miloslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia won the men's singles gold 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 over Tim Mayotte of Springfield, Mass.
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