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Old May 29th, 2013, 06:17 PM   #2641
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by tennisfan2808 View Post
ESPN posted an article about how Kathleen Horvath beat Martina Navratilova at the 83 FO 4th round. At the end of the article, there's this mini thing about Steffi

Years after that signature victory, Horvath and her 4-year-old daughter, Erica, ran into Steffi Graf in the players' lounge at the U.S. Open. Horvath introduced Graf to her daughter, saying, "This is the best woman who ever played."

Erica looked confused.

"But, Mommy," she said, "I thought you were the best player ever."

Graf, always gracious, smiled.

"You're right," she said. "Your mother was the best player."

For one day, at least, Erica Kathleen Horvath was.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 07:17 PM   #2642
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
Hi Mrs A.

One year in Washington Steffi was points away from a golden set vs Zina Garrison. A golden set being 24 points to zero!
Yeah, that was not Zina's best day. There was a kind of hysteria, for want of a better word, in opponents that sometimes built up around Steffi during her career. The opponents sometimes worked themselves into such a fear of being humiliated that even world-class, highly-skilled players turned into club level 3.0 players -- and then that fear was compounded when Steffi started rolling through games with nary a point lost. (This hysteria is not to be confused with what I called "getting Graffed," in that the hysteria is something that opponent does almost entirely to herself, whereas "getting Graffed" is something Steffi really does to them.)
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Old May 31st, 2013, 11:09 AM   #2643
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

After Evert's loss to Arantxa, Navratilova fell to Zvereva. Martina wouldn't return to Roland Garros until her farewell tour in 1994, so for a number of years, 1988 looked to be the last French Open for the Evertilova axis. The reality that the Chris and Martina Show was not going to continue indefinitely was finally sinking in.

Will Women's Tennis Revolution Start With French?
May 31, 1988
JIM SARNI
Sun-Sentinel

PARIS -- The quarterfinals began Monday at Roland Garros -- without Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

The two greatest women players in the history of open tennis were missing as the French Open got down to business.

Evert and Navratilova were just two of the first-week losers, cast aside with the other 120 pretenders. They failed to make the cut. Evert lost in the third round to Arantxa Sanchez Saturday; Navratilova lost to Natalia Zvereva in the fourth round Sunday.

The final eight: Steffi Graf, Bettina Fulco, Gabriela Sabatini, Helen Kelesi, Nicole Provis, Sanchez, Helena Sukova, Zvereva. No Evert, no Navratilova. It was almost unfathomable.

The two legends have ruled women's tennis in the '80s like the old French monarchs. They took turns on the throne.

Before this infamous 1988 French Open, over the previous 27 Grand Slam tournaments, either Evert or Navratilova played for the championship. Often, they played each other.

You have to go back to the 1981 French Open, when Hana Mandlikova beat Sylvia Hanika in the trivia final to find the last time neither Evert nor Navratilova stuck around for the trophy presentation.

Now, seven years later, Chris and Martina were history.

"I don't think either Chris or Martina wants anyone to feel this is sad," said Pam Shriver.

"Both players are my friends and I'm sorry they lost, but I can't feel that sorry. Chris has won this tournament seven times. Martina's won it three times. Martina has eight Wimbledons, Chris has six U.S. Opens. They've won a lot of Grand Slam titles.

"I have a lot of trouble crying over what happened here. I'm 25 and I've been playing 10 years and I haven't won one of them.

"Chris and Martina have been at the top for a long, long time and there was a void for three or four years, after (Andrea) Jaeger and (Tracy) Austin got injured, when there weren't any challenges."

Then along came Steffi Graf. Last year, the West German teen-ager soared from No. 3 to No. 2 to No. 1, eclipsing Evert, then Navratilova.

The Mighty Two suddenly became the Big Three. Evert and Navratilova strangely began meeting in semifinals for the right to face Graf. They were seeded to square off again in the French Open semifinals.

"It sounds funny, but I think because Chris lost, Martina became more nervous," Shriver said.

"In the bottom half of the draw, with Chris out, who else was left? There's more pressure on you when you stand out alone. Martina played a nervous, negative match."

Chris had an excuse -- a foot injury. Martina did not. She was primed to play Graf for the first time this season.

"I never thought Martina would lose against Zvereva," Graf said. "I was watching the match and when I saw Martina leading 6-5 in the second set, I left."

Now, it will likely be Graf -- if Gabriela Sabatini doesn't get in the way -- against a mystery finalist Saturday.

Not only are Evert and Navratilova gone, but so are Mandlikova, Manuela Maleeva and Claudia Kohde-Kilsch.

Seven of the eight female quarterfinalists are under 19 and five of them have never played a Grand Slam quarterfinal before. Sukova is the old lady at 23.

"These are young, young players," Shriver said. "That's another reason I'm glad I didn't play singles here."

Evert is 33, Navratilova is 31. They are getting older and closer to the end of the line.

The French Open will be empty without Chris and Martina this week, but dynasties do not last forever.

"It will be over when I say so, not when you guys say so," said Navratilova in her postmatch news conference Sunday.

"Martina and Chris both have a lot of desire," Shriver said. "I know both players will come back and have a great Wimbledon. They both have a good year ahead of them."

Wimbledon is three weeks away. Navratilova will be renewed on grass, where she is invincible. Or is she? If one of these teen-age wonders can topple the queen of Wimbledon, the revolution will really have begun.
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Old May 31st, 2013, 11:26 AM   #2644
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

If Steffi can't have fun, then nobody has fun!!!!! Poor Fulco...

LECONTE OUSTS BECKER TO PLANT ANOTHER SEED IN PARIS' CLAY - GRAF BREEZES INTO SEMIFINALS
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Tuesday, May 31, 1988
Rob Gloster, United Press International

Henri Leconte, making the most of a home crowd and the surface he likes best, eliminated Boris Becker in five sets yesterday to send sparks through the French Open on a rainy, blustery day.

The Frenchman produced yet another upset at the $3.9 million tournament when he defeated Becker, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Becker reached the semifinals of this Grand Slam event last year. But the No. 5 seed from West Germany was unable to survive the clay-court savvy of Leconte, the No. 11 seed.

"I couldn't do much more than I did today," said Becker, the two-time Wimbledon champion who prefers a hard surface. "I just had the misfortune of meeting Leconte this year in the round of 16, and he is playing maybe the best tennis of his career. I gave it my best shot and it wasn't enough today."

In another surprise, unseeded Jonas Svensson beat No. 7 Kent Carlsson in five sets in a meeting of Swedish baseliners.

Becker and Carlsson are the latest high seeds to fall. Among the others who previously tumbled are Stefan Edberg, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Yannick Noah.

Steffi Graf, the No. 1 women's seed from West Germany, was oblivious to such doings yesterday, needing just 43 minutes to rout Bettina Fulco of Argentina 6-0, 6-1 in a display of raw power that carried her into the semifinals.

Two key fourth-round matches were postponed a day because of long rain delays and darkening skies. Today, No. 1 Ivan Lendl will meet No. 16 John McEnroe and No. 4 Pat Cash of Australia will play No. 14 Andrei Chesnokov of the Soviet Union.

Graf, 18, seemed to take out her disgust with the miserable weather on Fulco, who became a shooting-gallery target for the defending champion's bullet-like shots from all angles. The start of play was held up 20 minutes by rain, which continued intermittently through the match. In early afternoon, the showers turned into a downpour, halting play twice for a total of about three hours.

"It was terrible, a terrible feeling," said Fulco, 19, who won just three points in a first set that lasted 16 minutes. "She hit everything to the lines and I couldn't do anything. I played her four times last year and the ones on red clay were pretty close. So I was really surprised today."

Graf had four aces and gave up just 23 points in the entire match. She attacked furiously whenever the Argentine was able to return a shot. Fulco won just 13 points in dropping the first 11 games, but then took 10 points in the last two games, one of which she won. Graf won 56 points during the match, mostly with her powerful forehands.

"I wasn't very happy about this," Graf said. "It wasn't fun. It was freezing cold and it was raining sometimes. I have a cold and this won't make it any better. I was happy that the match was over quickly."

Graf said her forehand was better than ever.

"I've really got it back," she said. "I've always had a good forehand but it was not consistent. I let it slip away a little. Now it's really good. I'm playing more risky and more aggressively and not making many mistakes."

Graf has lost just 11 games in her five matches. She will not know her semifinal opponent until today because the quarterfinal match between No. 4 Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina and Helen Kelesi of Canada was halted just before 9 p.m. because of rain. Sabatini was leading 4-6, 6-1, 2-1.

Graf said she had been shocked by the losses suffered by Navratilova, the second seed, and Evert, the fourth.

"It was quite a surprising weekend," Graf said after moving into the sixth round without losing a set for the second year in a row.

But she said that the elimination of the two former champions - especially Navratilova, who is out to replace Graf as No. 1 - would not effect her preparations for the rest of the tournament.

"I am playing on Thursday. I'm not thinking of anything else," she said. "It's sad for the tournament that Chris and Martina are out but it's not something that worries me."

So far, Graf's biggest problem is that she has not faced any tough competition in her first five matches, in which she has lost just 11 games.

"There was never any hard competition. I only played about 45 minutes each match," she said.

Svensson, ranked only sixth in his own country, wore down a tiring Carlsson in the 5-7, 7-6 (10-8), 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 marathon.

"I think he got a little bit tired and I put more pressure on him by keeping the ball in play more," said Svensson, who in the quarterfinals will meet the winner of the Lendl-McEnroe match.

Lendl, the world's No. 1 player, is aiming for his third straight French title. McEnroe is trying to make a tennis comeback after a seven-month layoff.

Though the New Yorker holds a 14-13 edge in the long rivalry, he has not beaten Lendl since 1985 and has won only two of their previous six encounters on clay.

McEnroe hopes to become the first American man to win the tournament since 1955. Another American, No. 9 Andre Agassi, has qualified for the quarterfinals. The 18-year-old plays (age) No. 15 Guillermo Perez-Roldan of Argentina today.

The capacity crowd on center court cheered McEnroe when he appeared, wearing a black raincoat, in the players' box during the Leconte-Becker match.They jeered when officials announced that his match against Lendl had been postponed.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:17 PM   #2645
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf upholds her seniority - French championships
The Times
London, England
Friday, June 3, 1988
Rex Bellamy

Paris The men's singles semi-finals of the French championships are surprising: Svensson v Leconte and Wilander v Agassi (with the accent on the "Ag"). Surprising, too, is the identity of Steffi Graf's opponent in the women's final Natalia Zvereva, aged 17, from Minsk.

Graf, aged 18 years and 11 months, was the oldest player in the semi-finals. She beat Gabriela Sabatini 6-3, 7-6 yesterday. Zvereva slightly sounder, more flexible, more mature beat Nicole Provis, of Victoria, nine months her senior, by 6-3, 6-7, 7-5.

Zvereva had a match point in the second set but the boldly tenacious Provis fought back and had a match point herself in the third set.

Graf served better than Sabatini and hit far more winners, notably on the forehand or from the forecourt. Graf hit harder and deeper: and had a physical advantage in her bounding athleticism.

Sabatini's backhand was less confident and testing than usual. She did not attack as often as she needed to. They had some exciting rallies but Graf led 5-3 in the second set before displaying a familiar tendency to pause on the brink of success.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:20 PM   #2646
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Zvereva's butterflies have already taken over her stomach.

SVENSSON OUSTS LENDL FROM FRENCH
Lexington Herald-Leader
Friday, June 3, 1988
Larry Siddons, Associated Press

PARIS -- Defending men's champion Ivan Lendl fell out of the French Open yesterday, the victim of a muscle strain, a noisy labor protest and serve-and-volley Swede Jonas Svensson.

Svensson was the biggest factor. He followed to perfection a game plan that was aimed at confusing Lendl, winning 7-6, 7-5, 6-2 for a berth in his first Grand Slam semifinals.

Lendl headed for England to have an aching shoulder examined and to try to get ready for Wimbledon.

Svensson plays in today's semifinals against 11th-seeded Henri Leconte of France, a first-round loser a year ago who beat 14th-seeded Andrei Chesnokov of the Soviet Union 6-3, 6-2, 7-6. Leconte is one victory from a shot at being the first home-country champion here in five years.

Defending women's champion Steffi Graf beat fourth-seeded Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), for a berth in her fifth-straight Grand Slam tournament final.

She will meet 17-year-old Natalia Zvereva of the Soviet Union, who overcame stomach cramps and held off one match point to beat Nicole Provis of Australia 6-3, 6-7, 7-5 in an error-filled match made more difficult for the 13th seed by stomach cramps that had her bent over, wincing in pain.

Zvereva is the first Soviet player to make a Grand Slam final since Olga Morazova played Chris Evert for the French and Wimbledon titles in 1974.

Provis faced match point in the second set, then had a match point of her own leading 5-4 in the third set before losing.

Provis, ranked 53rd in the world, made frequent errors. Zvereva hit the ball well, but had trouble chasing down her opponents shots.

"I felt some pain in my stomach," Zvereva said. "That's why I couldn't move very well."

She said she did not expect the cramps to bother her in Saturday's final and she said she would be ready for the top-seeded Steffi Graf.

"I know how to play against her tactically and mentally, so I will try my best," Zvereva said. "I hope I will play my best game and the match will be great."

Nursing a muscle injured late in the second set and distracted by a demonstration by aircraft workers just outside the Roland Garros complex, Lendl was down so far so early he said only a miracle could have saved him from his earliest elimination from a Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon three years ago.

"I thought it was serious before we started. You've got to take the guy seriously. You just have to keep on playing," Lendl said. "It's better to be lucky than good. But it's best to be both."

It was another in a series of upsets that have left the last rounds of the open a shambles. Against a player who has been top ranked in the world since September 1985, and who hadn't dropped a set before a four-set victory over John McEnroe in the previous round, Svensson's two-hour, 42-minute triumph may have been the most surprising of all.

"I don't think anyone expected it and certainly not me," said Svensson, ranked 21st in the world. "Maybe a three-set win for him.

"I played pretty smart. If he plays 100 percent, he's better. But if he's a little bit off, I have a chance. I had a chance and I took it today."

His confidence bolstered by a sports psychologist and big victories in previous rounds over countrymen Joakim Nystrom and seventh-seeded Kent Carlsson, Svensson relied on what Lendl described as "playing a strange way on clay courts."

"He wasn't missing, that's a problem to start with," Lendl said. "He was taking the ball early. He was charging the net and playing drop shots. He played really well."

Svensson said the drop shots were there to confuse Lendl. But he also said that the defending champ never seemed to be in the match.

"I thought he would do more -- change his game. Not come in, but put on more pressure," the Swede said. "He didn't. He let me play my game."

That game is attack-tennis, using the baseline as a launching pad for volleys rather than a zone never to be vacated. Svensson has used it to win three tournaments on fast indoor surfaces.

The red clay of Paris is much slower. But with Lendl having problems of his own -- he hit 56 percent of his first serves and repeatedly made errors -- Svensson was able to make it work.

He also got some help from unexpected sources, both inside and outside the stadium.

Airhorn blasts, speeches, rock music and fireworks filled the air during the first two sets. Noise also could be heard from striking aircraft workers demanding a raise. It appeared to rattle Lendl.

"Do something about it," he yelled to referee Jacques Dorfmann, who umpired the match. Dorfmann just shrugged his shoulders.

Lendl then was serving to the first set at 5-3. He dropped his serve, and let slip away a 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker as Svensson won 7-5.

"It was OK when it was just music, but it was bad when when they started (shouting) out," Lendl said. "But it was the same for both players. If I let it bother me, that's my fault."

Svensson said he blocked out the noise by focusing his thoughts on what he had to do to beat Lendl.

"You always listen to things you shouldn't listen to, but I was getting a little tired and I used that to really concentrate, and I had it out of my mind in the second set," he said.

Svensson asked what the protest was about. When told the demonstrators were striking, he asked: "Against me?"

Down 4-5 in the second set, Lendl felt something pop in the muscle on top of his right chest.

"I couldn't figure out exactly when and why it happened," he said. "He had me reaching for a lot of balls to my forehand. . . . I was worried about aggravating it but I never thought of defaulting. I've seen too many strange things at the French Open. . . . I was hoping for a miracle."

Lendl held for 5-5, then had his shoulder examined by a trainer and sprayed with painkiller. Svensson held serve, broke Lendl on a backhand drop shot and held for the second set on another drop.

The demonstrators moved down the street, and Lendl moved out of the tournament. Svensson got the only break he needed in the first game of the third set and broke again for 4-1 on a backhand cross-court winner. Lendl's shoulder was examined again on the changeover at 5-2, but Svensson quickly put him out of his misery. Three winners and a Lendl backhand into the net left Svensson the winner.

Graf went on court just after Lendl's defeat, but she had no intention of following his route to the exit.

"There sure have been a lot of upsets, but I don't even think about that," she said after ending a two-match losing streak against Sabatini. "After the two losses against Gaby, I finally wanted to win."

In those victories, on American clay and hard courts, Sabatini had beaten Graf with topspins and backhands. Trying to make her first Grand Slam final, Sabatini had bad luck with both tactics.

"I was not hitting my backhand very well," the Argentine said. "She served much better, especially her first serves. Her forehand was good, and she was hitting the ball much better."

Graf said she got tense toward the end of the second set, when she led 5-3 then lost the next two games, but settled down in the tiebreak to advance to her fifth consecutive Grand Slam final.

"I was relaxed in the tiebreak," she said. "I was going for the shots again."

Graf said the fact that this was a Grand Slam semifinal may have pushed her game up a notch.

"I have played some good tennis in the past week," Graf said. She has not lost a set, and the second-set tiebreaker was her first in the tournament. "It gave me a lot of confidence. I wanted to play my best."

Graf said she knows what to expect against Zvereva.

"Zvereva has the ability to change the game, hit drop shots," Graf said. "I have to play powerful, play my game."
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Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:22 PM   #2647
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Yup, almost everyone saw this mismatch of a final a-coming...

Graf Beats Sabatini In Semis, Not Taking Final Too Lightly
June 3, 1988
JIM SARNI
Sun-Sentinel

PARIS -- Steffi Graf still will show up Saturday.

Graf has one more match to play in the French Open -- the final against Natalia Zvereva. Thursday's semifinal victory against Gabriela Sabatini just seemed like the championship.

"For me, the final is Saturday," said the defending French Open champion after she defeated Sabatini 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) and avenged a pair of losses to the fourth-seeded Argentine earlier this year in Florida.

"I am happy to be in the final and I don't mind that Chris (Evert) or Martina (Navratilova) is not there, although it will not be as difficult now," Graf said.

Zvereva, 17, outlasted unseeded Australian Nicole Provis 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 to become the first Soviet to reach the French Open final since Olga Morozova in 1974.

Sabatini defeated Graf for the first time in 12 tries in the Virginia Slims of Florida final at The Polo Club last March, then repeated the feat at Amelia Island in April.

Full of confidence, Sabatini tried for the hat trick Thursday. But Graf, full of determination, denied her nemesis to reach her sixth consecutive Grand Slam final.

Graf, of West Germany, won the first set with a break in the eighth game. Graf broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set, but Sabatini, after failing on seven break points in four previous games, evened the set at 5-all. Graf broke for 6-5 but Sabatini broke again to force the tiebreaker.

From 2-all, Graf won four points in a row and went on to clinch the match.

"I was most relaxed during the tiebreak," Graf said.

"I don't get nervous usually for a tiebreak. The two games before the tiebreak, I was trying to play safe and keep the ball in play. I knew I had to start going for the shots."

Graf served well while Sabatini missed crucial backhands.

"I have been playing good tennis here," said Graf, who has not lost a set in six matches.

"I have a lot of confidence and I know I don't have to play my best to win."

-- Zvereva, 17, and Provis, 18, the unheralded half of the first all-teen semifinal in tennis history, both played at times as if neither wanted the task of meeting Graf in the final.

Zvereva missed a match point in the second set, then Provis missed a match point in the third set. Zvereva finally ended the drama by holding serve in the final game, but not before she fell behind love-30.

"I've had so many close matches, I had to lose one, and this was the one," said Provis, who played four three-setters and lost 75 games in six matches.

"Also, I think that the thought of getting to a French final was intimidating."

"I was a little bit lucky," said Zvereva, who has never played Graf.

"I wasn't concentrating and I didn't feel so good in this match. I had a pain in my stomach and I couldn't move as well."

It may hurt more Saturday.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:24 PM   #2648
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Great descriptions of the four teen semifinalists.

The lost childhood of tennis players
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
Wednesday, June 8, 1988
MELVIN MADDOCKS

PROFESSIONAL golfers are as durable as a favorite old putter. They go on for decades, losing their hairline and their waistline, looking less and less like athletes. And still they keep that sweet, compact swing, as if it were a gift apart from the rest of them.

By contrast, consider the short and speedy generations of the professional tennis player. John McEnroe at 29 - an age when a golf pro is just mastering his irons - was the old man at the French Open last week. None of the four semifinalists, averaging 21 years of age, had been born when Jack Nicklaus, still a force on the fairways, won his first Masters tournament in 1963.

Such is the difference between a sport where nobody runs and a sport where nobody walks.

Still, the four tennis tots who reached the men's semifinal in Paris are graybeards compared with the women semifinalists - teen-agers all.

Even so, the semifinal match in which Steffi Graf of West Germany defeated her doubles partner, Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, had a bit of the air of a replay. Though both women are only 18, they already constitute "archrivals," in the cliché of sports hype. Both are accustomed to being winners - particularly Graf - and their self-assured faces, their experienced eyes, show it. Sabatini possesses the early maturity of classic Latin beauty, looking a little like a young Sophia Loren - curiously combining this with the rolling walk of a jock. Graf's face is all determination, discipline, character, projecting the fitness of a body that looks as if it came to the tennis court straight from a Nautilus machine.

But the other semifinalists, Natalia Zvereva, 17, of the Soviet Union and Nicole Provis, 18, of Australia, are a different matter. Provis has a schoolgirl's chubby face, with innocent blue eyes set off by a blond ponytail. When she misses an easy shot, she walks away with a sulky, head-down shuffle, as if she were going to be late for school and is pretending she doesn't care. When she misses a really easy shot, she shapes her mouth in a pout - as if she had forgotten to do her homework, too. An erratic streak can drive her to place her racket on her head as a duncecap.

Zvereva, who defeated her - just barely - seems equally the schoolgirl, but of a different order. She is thin, quick, nervous - the student who, from sheer energy or anxiety, is a natural squirmer. Her short haircut gives her the unisex look of a 12-year-old. When she serves, her eyebrows arch upward like a roof above her squint. Just before she hits the ball, her mouth forms a tiny O as if to scream. When she loses a point, all this intensity crumples, and she appears about to cry.

Not to worry. These are child-impersonators, concealing a precocious mustering of muscle and will-to-win.

The kid tennis phenomenon is hardly new. Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors began as the toddling extensions of ambitious parents. But the little winners seem to get to Centre Court sooner and sooner, and the crowd just loves these infant prodigies. It eats them up - and spits them out at about 22.

Tennis is not child labor - not at those prices. But the cult of the winner - the pressure to be No. 1 - has produced its quota of burned-out millionaires in their 20s. Above the bashing games of Graf and Sabatini hover the ghosts of Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger, former child champions, whose overtaxed bodies and wills made them has-beens at the age other women are just graduating from college.

The teen-agers now taking over tennis make up an extraordinary corps of Spartans, junior grade - not to forget 18-year-old Andre Agassi on the men's side, who especially delights the spectators by acting out the fantasy that it's all in fun.

As the next generation of prodigies, at the age of 10 or so, already moves from airport to airport, from tennis court to tennis court, setting new standards of skill, what gets left out of their lives? You could write a parable of lost childhood on the theme and call it "Amadeus" in honor of the prodigy of prodigies - only this time you'd have to forget the music.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:26 PM   #2649
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Yes, my international friends, here in the United States, we routinely had to endure missing out on live action from quarterfinal and semifinal matches (usually the ones featuring the star players) so that NBC could have something in reserve to show in the event of a rain delay or dud final.

Meanwhile, kudos to JoAnne Russell for winning the betting pool on how long the final would last. And also worth mentioning is that Dick Enberg, just a television commentator and not a behind-the-scenes reporter, can see the problems brewing with Papa Graf from miles away.

TENNIS
USA TODAY
Thursday, June 2, 1988
RACHEL SHUSTER and RUDY MARTZKE, Gannett News Service

If NBC's Dick Enberg was painter LeRoy Neiman, what would his picture of this most interesting French Open be?

"It would have very basic colors, to represent the youth, and a lot of flashes and blurs, to represent the surprise, and, in the case of Andre Agassi, the dash and the elan that he has.

"And it would drip at the bottom, because we've had more than our share of rain."

More than their share of upsets have robbed the NBC folks of some compelling stories for the final Saturday and Sunday of the French Open.

Agassi's saga as the only U.S. player left is NBC's glimmer of hope, but that could fade Friday if Mats Wilander wins in the semifinals.

"The challenge for us, in addition to praying that Agassi makes it to a final, is to tell the stories as they unfold and make it interesting," says NBC's Glenn Adamo, producing his first French Open.

"The youngsters have really caught our attention. They've dominated this tournament. Tennis can get very rote when you see the same names over and over. Obviously, we would have liked to have had the Navratilovas and Everts around, but you can see what went wrong with them by seeing who's substituting for them. It's a different kind of tennis."

But Adamo's a realist, and he knows he could be facing finals that lack drama and don't last long. If so, you will see highlights of two matches "protected," or not seen, from ESPN's coverage: Thursday's Steffi Graf-Gabriela Sabatini semifinal, and Friday's Agassi-Wilander semifinal.

Unfortunately, that means ESPN viewers will get to see only the Henri Leconte-Andrei Chesnokov semifinal.

Even NBC analyst JoAnn Russell says the women's final, between West Germany's Graf and the Soviet Union's Natalia Zvereva, could be a yawner.

"I get paid by the minute, so I would not like to see a 35-minute final," says Russell, laughing. "Of course, we've been spoiled here. The women's finals have been better than the men's the last few years."

Enberg enjoys watching Graf play, but says she still hasn't loosened up off the court. The blame, he says, rests with Graf's father.

"I feel sorry for her," Enberg says. "As a father myself, you want that relationship to be positive. But there's always some antagonism there.

"Her father has succeeded in getting her here, but I'm afraid her father may fail to keep her here. There's going to come a time when she'll look him in the eye and say, `I don't need you any more.'

"He's become a detriment. He interrupts to tell her not to answer a question. That's got to weigh on her.

"She has a great future, and it's something at this point she doesn't need. Her father's hanging on in a vicarious situation and preventing her from blossoming in terms of whatever personality is there."

[....]
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Old Jun 4th, 2013, 01:09 AM   #2650
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

So 25 years ago, "on demand" viewing was possible.

TV SPORTS FANTASY A REALITY AT OPEN
Sun-Sentinel
Friday, June 3, 1988
JIM SARNI

PARIS -- I sit at my desk in the shining new press center at the French Open. I turn on my television.

There is a television monitor mounted on my desk. There is a television monitor at each of the 216 desks in the three press rooms. It looks like the second floor at Burdines.

At my desk console, which looks like something from Cape Canaveral, I control my TV.

I can watch 30 stations. I punch Channel 1, I can watch the match on Court 1. I punch Channel 2, I can watch the match on Court 2. I punch Channel 15, I can watch the match on Court 15.

I can watch the matches on all 16 courts. I can get from Court 4 to Court 13 in the wink of an eye. It used to take five minutes by foot. Now I can be everywhere. I don't miss a thing.

In addition to the 16 courts on my TV, I can watch the five French TV stations.

One station is covering the Ivan Lendl-Jonas Svensson match. I put on my earphones and listen to the French commentary.

When I get bored, I switch the channel. I watch the weather report on another channel. Please don't let it rain again.

There is a French music video on Channel 22 and a game show, a version of Concentration with 56 numbers, on Channel 23.

I love my TV.

My TV also has channels for the two interview rooms. I can listen to the post-match interviews from here.

I also have three stations for statistics and another which provides running scores of all the matches in progress.

I have a station for everything. Almost everything -- I can't get the Celtics game.

This is wonderful. I can cover the French Open without leaving my desk. Unless I need a Pepsi.

I wish I had this marvelous TV set at home. Wouldn't it be nice if you could watch the French Open and switch to the match you want to see, instead of the one ESPN decides to cover.

I think of the other exciting possibilities.

What if you could switch to any baseball game every night. To any basketball or hockey game during the winter. To any football game on a fall Sunday afternoon.

What if I could watch different Olympic sports from Seoul on different channels.

Imagine being the master of the sports universe. Pushing buttons to enter all the stadiums, all the arenas.

Modern technology is moving faster than a Steffi Graf forehand. I have seen the future here at the French Open. I have stepped into the 21th century and I don't want to leave.

-- ESPN was unable to televise the Steffi Graf-Gabriela Sabatini semifinal Thursday and it cannot show the Andre Agassi-Mats Wilander semifinal today.

NBC protected both matches in the event of rain Saturday or Sunday.

NBC kept the most attractive semifinals from the public last year, too. The network has the right in its French Open contract but it is a disservice to the loyal tennis viewer.

ESPN should have free rein of the semifinals, and if it rains, NBC can show a tape. The viewers already know the results anyway.

-- NBC could have a French Open men's final Sunday featuring either Wilander, trying to win the second leg of the Grand Slam, or Agassi, trying to become the first American champion in 33 years.

''I'd sure like to see Agassi,'' NBC analyst Bud Collins said. ''At least we've been saved from another Lendl-Wilander final. I'm delighted by that. Lendl is a wonderful tennis player but he doesn't excite anyone.''

NBC also will be without Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in Saturday's final.

''We've lived for so long with these two, but life moves on,'' Collins said.
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Old Jun 4th, 2013, 01:10 AM   #2651
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

YOUNG VS. YOUNGER IN WOMEN'S FINAL
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Saturday, June 4, 1988
The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) - When defending champion Steffi Graf plays Natalia Zvereva of the Soviet Union today in the women's championship of the French Open, it will be a battle of the young against the younger.

Graf became the youngest French Open women's champ a year ago, when she won the title one week shy of her 18th birthday.

But in a tournament in which youth and upsets have ruled, the West German was the oldest women's semifinalist, at 18 years, 11 months, three weeks, and faces an opponent almost two years younger in the final.

''I feel terrible. My career is over,'' Graf said jokingly in an overdramatic voice that would have done a soap-opera actress proud.

Graf has made the finals of the last five Grand Slam tournaments, winning the Australian Open this year in addition to last year's French Open. She lost at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Zvereva, who turned 17 a month ago, is in her first major final. She won the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open junior titles last year and was recognized as the world junior champion.

She is the first Soviet to gain a Grand Slam final since her occasional coach, Olga Morozova, lost to Chris Evert at Wimbledon and the French Open in 1974.

The champion today will collect more than $246,000. The loser pockets $123,000. Zvereva's money will go to the Soviet Tennis Federation, and it will give her a stipend that should more than cover her expenses.

Although Graf and Zvereva never have played each other, the top-seeded Graf goes into the final as a heavy favorite after her semifinal victory over Gabriela Sabatini.

But then Martina Navratilova was a heavy favorite when she met Zvereva, seeded 13th, in the fourth round. Zvereva eliminated the two-time champion 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).

The Soviet was the survivor of the error-filled semifinal against Australia's Nicole Provis. With Navratilova and seven-time champion Evert out early, the bottom half of the draw was left to a battle of players who were the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds of last year's junior tournament.

''Zvereva has the ability to change the game, hit drop shots,'' Graf said. ''I have to play powerful, play my game.''

Graf has powered her way through the women's draw. Before her 6-3, 7-6 victory over Sabatini, she lost just 10 games in five matches, several, she said, when she was ''experimenting.''

A confident Zvereva said she has some surprises in store. ''I know how to play against her tactically and mentally, so I will try my best,'' she said. ''I hope I will play my best game and the match will be great.''
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Old Jun 4th, 2013, 01:15 AM   #2652
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

As bad as this match was, something like Nelson-Dunbar vs. Hepner would have been infinitely worse.

GRAF REACHES HALFWAY MARK
USA TODAY
Saturday, June 4, 1988
RICHARD FINN, Gannett News Service

PARIS - In reaching the halfway mark of an historic grand slam bid Saturday, Steffi Graf made French history.

The West German juggernaut successfully defended her title by recording the tournament's first championship bagel job, by blanking the Soviet Union's Natalia Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 on the red brick stadium clay court.

The mis-match lasted 32 minutes. Deducting the 7 and half minutes that elapsed during the court changeovers, Graf was actually on the court playing 24 minutes and 30 seconds.

"I'm very sorry it was so fast," a sheepish Graf told the capacity crowd of 16,500.

Graf took less time to win the final than it took Vicki Nelson-Dunbar and Jean Hepner to play a single point in their match at the Ginny of Richmond tournament in 1984.

The point lasted 29 minutes, during which the ball crossed the net 643 times.


The shortest grand slam final match in history according to tennis historian Ted Tinling was a 26 minute romp by the legendary Suzanne Lenglen in the 1922 Wimbledon final.

The last 6-0, 6-0 grand slam final victory was by Dorthea Lambert Chambers in the 1911 Wimbledon.

"I am very sorry for the public because it was so fast today. I couldn't do anything about it. I'm sorry," said Graf, 18, who could not recall the last time she won 6-0, 6-0.

A check of her 1987 record , however, showed that Graf won three times 6-0, 6-0 last year, including a second round whitewash of Tine Scheuer Larsen at Wimbledon.

Zvereva's performance in reaching her first grand slam final never suggested that she would be so outclassed. The No. 13 seeded Zvereva had bounced second seeded Martina Navratilova out in the fourth round with a poised and powerful showing.

In the next round she beat Arantxa Sanchez, who earlier had knocked out Chris Evert. [sic. Zvereva beat Sukova; Provis beat ASV.] And then in the semifinals she displayed great tenacity and courage by saving a match point to beat Nicole Provis.

But, against Graf, the 17-year-old from Minsk could manage to win only 13 points and was reduced to tears in the post match news conference.

"I just had a bad game, I wasn't in the game today" said Zvereva, the first Soviet in a grand slam final since her coach Olga Morozova lost in the 1984 Wimbledon and French finals.

Graf attempted to console the loser afterwards in the locker room.

"I said I'm sorry how it went today and that she had a great tournament," said Graf.

The world's No. 1 player now has won the first two legs of tennis' grand slam (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open) without the loss of a set.

Graf captured the Australian Open this January on the Flinders Park Rebound Ace courts losing 29 games. This tournament she lost 20 games.

The last player to win all four championships in one calendar year was Australian Margaret Smith Court, who stood just two seats away from Graf at the victory presentation.

Navratilova made a challenge at the grand slam in 1984 when she won three consecutive titles before being stopped at the Australian Open.

Sunday's men's final (NBC live 9 a.m. EDT) - offering a dramatic contrast between the unflappable third seeded Mats Wilander of Sweden and the impish charm of the 11th seeded Frenchman Henri Leconte - promises to be more competitive than the women's.

Leconte is the first Frenchman in the final since Yannick Noah won instant national fame by beating Wilander in the 1983 championship.

The sellout crowd will be collectively hitting every shot with Leconte from the first ball to the last, urging him on to the championship.

"It won't be the same as the Noah match," predicated Wilander. "Noah is more of a hero here than Leconte."

Wilander, has won here twice and is making his fifth championship match appearance. He leads the career series against the flamboyant, free swinging southpaw 8-2. Leconte's last win came three years ago on clay in Dusseldorf, West Germany 6-2, 6-4.

But, after three five set escapes in his first four matches this tournament, Leconte has been nearly untouchable in sweeping past Andrei Chesnokov and Jonas Svensson without the loss of a set in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.

"He played a lot of unbelievable shots and didn't let me play my own game," conceded Svensson afterwards.

Wilander went five long sets before beating the last American Andre Agassi in the semifinals.
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Old Jun 4th, 2013, 01:17 AM   #2653
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf grinds Zvereva into submission - French Open
The Sunday Times
London, England
Sunday, June 5, 1988
Sue Mott

THAT grand old lady of tennis, Steffi Graf, was having none of it. A little Russian girl from Minsk may have swaggered into the women's singles final at the French Open, winning hearts and matches against her seniors, but against Graf her uppance had come.

The usurping instincts of Natalia Zvereva, barely 17 and two years younger than the dominant world No. 1, were ruthlessly crushed 6-0, 6-0 by the defending women's champion in the first all-teenage final in history.

It was a one-woman devastation. Not since the days of Suzanne Lenglen, after whom Graf's silver trophy was named, was a victory so pronounced. Statistics, if not the subdued crowd, ran riot.

In 34 pulverising minutes interrupted for an hour's-worth of pelting rain Graf became the first woman to win a Grand Slam final to love in 77 years. It was only four minutes longer than a game played by Ivan Lendl and Joakim Nystrom last year.

The only consolation for the Russian was that her agony was fleeting and she still has the scalp of Martina Navratilova packed up in her old kit bag. "It was not a nightmare, it was a bad match," she said staunchly afterwards.

Graf, en route to her third Grand Slam title, has filled in time between forehands by visiting galleries, cinemas and George Michael in concert. She now faces the tantalising prospect of being the first woman since Margaret Court in 1970 to win the four majors in one year. At least she is apologetic about it all. "I'm very sorry it was so fast," she said on the winner's rostrum.

Zvereva, nicknamed Natasha, with a usually fluent double-fisted backhand and a hankering for a Mercedes Benz, was undoubtedly sorry too. An intrusive TV camera nosed in front of her as she sat in her chair immediately afterwards. She gently draped a towel over the lens.

And so we similarly draw a veil over one of the most lopsided encounters in professional tennis and consider more cheerful matters.

The 1988 French Open will undoubtedly be remembered as the time the new tennis wave came rolling in. At its crest surfs young Andre Agassi, the streak-haired teenager from Nevada, whose semi-final loss against Mats Wilander, twice the French champion, was grand theatre.

The Swede, an ancient 23, contests today's final against the home favourite Henri Leconte, but the lingering images are of Agassi borrowing umbrellas from the crowd, paying off linesmen with imaginary dollars and wailing like a banshee when he hit a scorching winner. "I'd rather play McEnroe," said Wilander afterwards.

On losing, Agassi packed up his bags, ordered one last Big Mac and fled back to Las Vegas. "He wouldn't play Wimbledon for a million dollars," said his coach, Nick Bollettieri. "He's just a baby. He wants to go home."

This is a new problem for tennis. As Navratilova said, picking her way through the discarded rattles and building bricks in the locker room: "Wait until the 10-year-olds come along!" Don't joke, Martina, don't joke.
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Old Jun 4th, 2013, 01:20 AM   #2654
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

One of the greatest earnest-but-ironic quotes in tennis.

Graf uses strokes of genius to blank Zvereva
Houston Chronicle
Sunday, JUNE 5, 1988
Larry Siddons, AP sports writer

PARIS - Quick and deadly, Steffi Graf tightened her grip on the top of women's tennis Saturday.

Lashing out her always powerful forehand, Steffi Graf retained the women's championship at the French Open tennis championships Saturday in a blowout of historic dimension and
unusual quickness. It was as easy as everyone else told her it would be, and much easier than she told herself.

Ten days shy of her 19th birthday, Graf kept the title she won in a tense three-setter a year ago with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Natalia Zvereva of the Soviet Union.

Third-seeded McNeil and Lozano beat the top-seeded team of Martina Navratilova and Emilio Sanchez 7-6, 7-5 in the semifinals.

The Graf-Zvereva match lasted 32 minutes, just over half as long as the one-hour rain storm that interrupted play halfway through the first set. Officially, shorter Grand Slam finals have been played, but single points have taken almost as long. The time on court might have been the quickest ever.

Only once before, in 1911, had a women's Grand Slam final ended without the loser taking a single game, recorded by Dorthea Lambert Chambers over Dora Penelope Boothby at Wimbledon 77 years ago. Never had it happened in Paris, where the worst previous drubbing was the 6-1, 6-0 defeat administered by the legendary Suzanne Lenglen to American Mary K. Browne in 1926.

Lenglen, whose name is on the main gate at the Roland Garros complex, defeated Molla Mallory in 1922 for the French women's championship 6-2, 6-0 in 26 minutes, the shortest Grand Slam final ever.

Graf and Zvereva may have been on court a shorter time, however; 66 years ago players did not sit down to rest on changeovers. If five changeovers, totaling a minimum of 7 1/2 minutes, are deducted from the total time, Graf's victory took just 24 minutes, 30 seconds. Last year at the French Open, Ivan Lendl and Joakim Nystrom took 28 minutes to play one game.

"I'm very sorry it was so fast,'' Graf told the center court crowd, who cheered Zvereva on, trying to help her avoid the worst final defeat in the tournament's history.

"I saw her in the locker room and I said, `I'm sorry about it and I hope you get better,' '' Graf said.

If she deprived the fans of a classic match, a replay of her victory over Martina Navratilova last year, she gave them one that will take its own place in tennis history.

After her victory in the Australian Open last January, the second consecutive French Open triumph kept Graf on course to be the first woman since Margaret Smith Court in 1970 to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in one year.

Zvereva, 17, came out after the rain break wearing a new shirt but facing the same old problem. Graf was on the other side of the net, and the top-seeded West German's forehand was as blistering as it had been throughout the tournament.

When the final point - fittingly on a forehand cross-court winner - fell in, Graf jumped for joy, then sprinted to the box seats overlooking center court and jumped up to try to reach her father, Peter Graf.

He grabbed her outstretched arms and pulled her up for a swift victory kiss and lowered her to the court again.

Though Zvereva looked tense at the beginning of the match, she didn't blame nerves for the loss. She seemed to have no answer to Graf's powerful forehand, as time and again she watched helplessly as precisely placed ground strokes zipped by her.

"I was in my best form today. I was hitting great shots," said Graf. "I think she was nervous today. It's not easy to be 17 in a Grand Slam final."

Graf was 17 years and 11 months when she won the French Open last year, but she looks much older and stronger than Zvereva, who turned 17 just six weeks ago.

Zvereva won just five points from Graf in the 17-minute first set, which was interrupted for an hour by rain.

In the second set, Graf dropped eight points, but she said she didn't suffer from the lack of concentration that plagued her in her earlier matches.

The quickness and completeness of the defeat left Zvereva numb. Last year's junior women's champion in Paris and in only the third regular tournament final of her career declined the traditional chance to address the crowd and turned down requests for television interviews.

"I knew what to say, but I couldn't say anything,'' she said.

The architect of one of the biggest upsets of a tournament filled with surprises, a fourth-round victory over Navratilova, Zvereva finished her news conference in tears.

"I didn't play so good. She was too strong," Zvereva said. "It's not a nightmare. It's just a bad game, it's just bad play on my side."

Graf said she never expected it to be so easy. "Last year was my first win for a Grand Slam championship. I was tired and exhausted and it took me longer to realize it," Graf said. "But this one wasn't routine. It's a Grand Slam final. OK, it's 6-0, 6-0, and it's a different dimension from last year, but it still means a lot to me. I felt surprised on the court.

"On clay courts, you always lose a couple of games,'' said Graf, who lost only 20 games in the tournament. She did not drop a set for her second consecutive Grand Slam tournament.

With her own game in such good form and Zvereva 14 spots below her in the women's rankings, friends told Graf she had nothing to worry about. She tried her best not to believe them, and that may have been the final factor in the Soviet teen-ager's undoing.

"Everybody was telling me, `It's so easy.' They were saying, `You can't lose,''' Graf said. "So I told myself, `You better watch out.' She beat Martina and she's a good player. So I had to be tough.''

Numbers tell the dominance of Graf on a blustery day in Paris.

Playing in her fifth consecutive Grand Slam final, the West German lost just 13 points, only four on her serve. She allowed Zvereva to reach game point just once, at 40-30 in the second game, and she promptly broke with a forehand winner down the line and two Zvereva errors. Zvereva never again won more than two points in a game.

That forehand has become Graf's trademark, and it was as dominant as ever Saturday. The final point was her 21st winner off the forehand, not counting a pair of forehand putaways off short lobs into the open court.

And all this on a day when Graf's serve was not particularly potent. She hit on only 54 percent of her first serves, had three aces and double-faulted twice. It was a small flaw in an otherwise overwhelming performance against an opponent who looked intimidated by the occasion.

"I always try to play my best. I'm in good shape at the moment, and that's very important on clay courts,'' Graf said. "I try to put pressure on my opponent. Those are the two things I try to do. No one else seems to be able to do it.''

Only fourth-seeded Gabriela Sabatini was able to extend Graf to a tiebreaker, with the West German winning it 7-3 to clinch a semifinal victory. She won at least one set at love in four of her five earlier victories and dropped as many as four games in a set only while experimenting with some shots in an opening-round 6-0, 6-4 defeat of France's Natalie Guerree.

In other championships decided Saturday, Lori McNeil of Houston and Jorge Lozano of Mexico defeated Brenda Schultz and Michiel Schapers of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-2 for the mixed doubles title, and Andres Gomez of Ecuador and Emilio Sanchez of Spain captured the men's doubles, defeating John Fitzgerald of Australia and Anders Jarryd of Sweden 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3.

The women's doubles final is today and features top-seeded Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver of the United States against No. 2 Claudia Kohde-Kilsch of West Germany and Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia.

FRENCH OPEN AT A GLANCE

-----------------------

A quick look at what happened yesterday at the $3.9 million French Open tennis championships:

- Attendance - 18,004, a record for the date. Old record 16,840, set last year. Total attendance for 14 days, 304,756.

- Weather - Mild and blustery with a brief period of rain. Highs about 70 degrees.

Graf-Zvereva box score
Saturday's box score of No. 1 Steffi Graf 's 6-0, 6-0 victory over No. 13 Natalia Zvereva for the women's singles championship at the French Open in Paris: ....................Graf........Zvereva
1st serve percent... 54............82.
Double faults.........1.............0.
Aces..................3.............0.
Points...............49............13.
Deuces................0.............1.
Services lost.........0.............6.
Love games............3.............0.
Service points.......24.............9.
Break points.........13.............0.
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Old Jun 4th, 2013, 01:23 AM   #2655
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

You know you have a problem when the only things the crowd applauds are your opponent's winners -- and your opponent's errors. My biggest memories of this match are: the out-wide ace Steffi hits for the second point; Zvereva's backhand that triple bounces before it hits the net in the second point when play resumes after the rain delay; the second serve Zvereva hits at 0-5, 30-all in the second set -- it's the best drop shot she's hit all day (but she still loses the point). It's a shame Natasha imploded so badly, because there are a few points that hint at how entertaining this could have been (e.g., set point and match point). Then again, it could also be a case of "That was intended for Navratilova. The other girl just accidentally got in the way."

Graf Takes Shortest Line: Straight Sets
June 5, 1988
JIM SARNI
Sun-Sentinel

PARIS -- A year ago, center court at Stade Roland Garros was steeped in high drama.

Steffi Graf defeated Martina Navratilova 6-4, 4-6, 8-6 in the French Open final to win her first Grand Slam title. The triumph elevated women's tennis.

Saturday the place reeked with low comedy.

Graf destroyed Natalia Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 to defend her French Open title. The rout marked the tournament's worst defeat.

In more than a century of Grand Slam tennis, only one other woman had shut out her opponent in the final. That was Dorothea Lambert Chambers, who defeated Dora Boothby at Wimbledon in 1911.

The worst French Open defeat had been Suzanne Lenglen's 6-1, 6-0 rout of Mary K. Browne in 1926.

But Graf wiped that out, as she wiped out Zvereva in 32 minutes, not counting an hour rain delay in the first set.

The shortest match in a Grand Slam final is 26 minutes (Lenglen over Mrs. F. Mallory, 1922 Wimbledon), according to Ted Tinling, international liaison for the Virginia Slims Series.

In those days, though, the players did not have 90-second TV changeovers.

Subtracting 7 1/2 minutes for changeovers, Graf was on the court for 24 1/2 minutes Saturday.

It was too long for Zvereva.

Graf won 49 points. The 17-year-old Soviet, making her debut in a Grand Slam final, won 11 points.

Zvereva actually hit only two winners, a pair of backhand passing shots in the second set. The rest were Graf errors.

"Everyone kept telling me it was going to be an easy final," Graf said.

"But I thought, if everyone is saying that, I'd better watch out. I didn't expect anything like this. I can't remember the last time I won love-and-love." (It was Pascale Paradis at the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles last year.)

Love-and-love. It sounds so nice. But it is a tennis player's nightmare. The dreaded double bagel job, as Harold Solomon used to say.

"No, it is not a nightmare," said Zvereva, on the verge of tears in the postmatch interview.

"It was just a bad game on my side. I just wasn't in the game -- ever."

Zvereva will try to remember this French Open for her stunning victory over Martina Navratilova last Sunday instead of the embarrassing final.

Evonne Goolagong lost the 1975 Wimbledon final to Billie Jean King 6-1, 6-0. Great players have had bad days before.

Zvereva said she was not awed, but she appeared helpless from the start. Graf held serve at love to win the first game. It took a minute.

Graf committed three forehand errors to give Zvereva a game point in the second game -- her only lead in any game -- but the Soviet hit a backhand into the net for deuce.

Graf won the next two points, then the third game, before the rains hit. It was 3-0 after nine minutes.

The rain did not cool off Graf. She won 11 points in a row when the match resumed. Graf missed a forehand, her fifth error of the set, before closing out the set. The match was 15 minutes old.

"When I win a set 6-love, I usually lose a couple of games in the next set," Graf said.

"I usually lose my concentration a little. But I was in my best form today. My touch was there.

"I was sorry the match went so fast, but there was nothing I could do about it."

Graf slipped a little in the second set. She dropped eight points and needed 17 minutes to win it.

The best Zvereva could do was reach 30-all in the final game.

"I haven't lost this bad since I was very little," Zvereva said. "Steffi is the best."

Despite Navratilova's claims to the contrary, Graf has reaffirmed her superiority in 1988. She has won all the big titles: the Australian Open, the Lipton International Players Championships and the French Open.

Graf is halfway to the Grand Slam, as she turns 19 on June 14.

"No, I'm not thinking about the Grand Slam," said Graf, who has reached the final of the last five Slam tournaments. "Martina is the favorite to win Wimbledon."

Navratilova has won six straight Wimbledons, but Graf should be seeded No. 1, based on her computer ranking.

Graf said she would worry about the grass courts and Navratilova later. She was going to celebrate her second French Open title.

"Last year it was so close, and beating Martina made it more special," Graf said.

"But defending it, even in a match like this, means a lot too."
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