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Old Jun 21st, 2014, 04:44 PM   #3781
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

N.Y. viewers boost national ratings
USA TODAY
Tuesday, June 8, 1999
Rudy Martzke

[...]

Additionally, superstars helped NBC's French Open tennis and CBS' Memorial golf tournament to high ratings.

NBC's 3.8 overnight for the Steffi Graf -Martina Hingis French Open women's final jumped 36% from last year's 2.8, and popular Andre Agassi's dramatic comeback triumph against Andrei Medvedev in the men's final resulted in a 4.0 overnight, an increase of 82% from last year's 2.2.

Tiger Woods again displayed his drawing power, with his victory in The Memorial earning a 4.7 overnight, a 31% increase from the 3.6 of a year ago.
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Old Jun 21st, 2014, 05:20 PM   #3782
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by djul14 View Post
FRENCH OPEN 1999 , best ever to me !!!
Not her best level, but a so unpredictible title, emotions, the crazy finals, the last one, EVERYTHING !
And all these days I didn't go to school to watch her matches
Never let your schooling interfere with your education...

One more amazing thing about that match: In the US, NBC showed it on tape and in the past, if a final ran longer than the time slot, they edited it to fit. (For example, they skipped the entire first set of the 1996 final, and I think they skipped a game or two of the 1992 final.) For this match, they showed the whole thing, including most of the trophy ceremony thanks to the United States Golf Association granting them time from their telecast. That's a real tip of the hat.
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Old Jun 21st, 2014, 05:32 PM   #3783
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms. Anthropic View Post
Never let your schooling interfere with your education...

One more amazing thing about that match: In the US, NBC showed it on tape and in the past, if a final ran longer than the time slot, they edited it to fit. (For example, they skipped the entire first set of the 1996 final
That was so lame not showing the great first set of Steffi. She hit 14 clean winners & Aranxta on red clay in 9 games !
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Old Jun 21st, 2014, 05:33 PM   #3784
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by grafan92 View Post
Thank you for all the articles Amy! Especially love the 99 French ones
I love how 1989, 1994, and 1999 tie together. Compare and contrast Steffi serving for the match and still losing in 1989 with Hingis in 1999. Compare and contrast "everyone" rooting for Steffi to lose and falling to an "adopted" French player in 1994 with everyone rooting for Hingis to lose and Steffi becoming the "adopted" French player in 1999. Steffi absolutely knew how awful Martina was feeling. (That was the whole point of the exercise, which, unfortunately was still lost on Hingis.)
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Old Jun 21st, 2014, 05:44 PM   #3785
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Gasquet View Post
That was so lame not showing the great first set of Steffi. She hit 14 clean winners & Aranxta on red clay in 9 games !
It a huge part of "why" tennis wasn't/isn't more popular in the US. Many times, the "competitive" part of a match, when the momentum is swinging back and forth, is usually the ugliest part of the match and the most likely to make the casual channel-surfing viewer say "Ugh" and tune out. To say nothing of how skipping a whole set completely gave away the outcome of the second set, as well as letting us know that Arantxa would be broken the first time she served for the match (too much time left in the telecast). Kinda ruins it for general sports fans.
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Old Jun 25th, 2014, 01:32 AM   #3786
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Turning our attention to Wimbledon 1984, two West German teenagers earn a little bit of attention. We note one of those coincidences that crop up now and then, as the past champions of Wimbledon inaugurate Steffi's Centre Court debut.

"It is not my way to give up"
Boris Becker (16) off the court on a stretcher after playing great
Steffi Graf (15) attains the round of 16 over Bettina Bunge

Hamburger Abendblatt
July 2, 1984
Ulrich Kaiser

London -- On Sunday afternoon, 16-year-old Boris Becker returned home to Heidelberg -- on crutches, and instead of a trophy, he wore his left leg in a cast. On the day before he was pulling off a gigantic surprise in the best way at Wimbledon when, with the score standing 2-6, 6-2, 6-7, 2-1 against Texan Bill Scanlon, he incurred a bad injury to his bone, after which he had to be carried from the court. In the evening in the hotel room, the stout youth excused himself to some visitors: "I'm sorry -- it is otherwise not my way to give up!"

For three quarters of an hour, the encounter between Boris Becker and Bill Scanlon looked exactly like a match between a 16-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man. The rascal from Heidelberg with a wry tongue -- the youngest to ever reach the round of 32 at Wimbledon -- made a rather helpless impression against the Texan. "It would be
best if I just go up to him and shake his hand right now," he shouted to his coach Günter Bosch.

However, something that is very rarely experienced at Wimbledon happened: with the score standing at 2-6, 0-2 the teenaged Becker won seven games in a row, and that although Scanlon later admitted that he had actually played his best tennis, but it simply didn't matter against this boy. Boris Becker served aces when he needed them -- he tore the ball down the lines and just barely dusted them - his volleys landed perfectly and when he leaped into the air every now and again, lying like a soccer goalkeeper, and put the round felt ball in the other court, the otherwise so reserved spectators shouted with body and soul. Becker also had a real chance to win the third set, in which Scanlon saved the tiebreak only with some luck and application of his superior experience despite a 1-4 deficit.

The strawberry blond boy scolded himself, but when he once again unwound his serve at the Texan at the beginning of the fourth act, he appeared headed toward winning another set. He served for a 3-1 lead and charged the net when he somehow stumbled and twisted. Within a minute, his left ankle swelled alarmingly. Scanlon lugged his opponent on the side, a physician came to the spot and made an ice pack, a nurse stroked the young hero, who had buried his chalk-white face in a towel. As they brought him away on a stretcher, the audience rewarded his performance with an ovation. Boris Becker certainly would have preferred to collect the applause in a different way. His dream of a match in the next round against John McEnroe is on hold for at least one year.

Instead of him, 15-year-old Steffi Graf from Heidelberg will now be allowed to make a start on Centre Court today at noontime against Brit Jo Durie, after she unexpectedly decided the German duel against Bettina Bunge for herself, 7-5, 6-3. The little lass will start a few minutes after a presentation of all the living Wimbledon lady champions, who have been invited for the 100th anniversary of the women's tournament.

Steffi Graf had spoiled Bettina Bunge's dream of causing a furor similar to two years ago, when she stood in the semifinals here. The slight schoolgirl, who is now the youngest player of all time to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon, outplaced Bettina Bunge, who often charged the net too carelessly, with deep passing shots and even remained dominant in the second set when she had to catch up from 0-3 down. Later, with a girlish giggle, she could barely calm herself about that fact and told reporters about pop stars Michael Jackson and Elton John as well as that her next opponent Jo Durie was naturally the favorite. But that was also the case previously with Bettina Bunge.

Claudia Kohde had little more than a practice match to get through with her 6-3, 6-1 win over Japanese-American Anne Kiyomura, who is considered one of the best doubles players in the world. The Saarbrück native topped her opponent not just physically by at least two head lengths but also in many more playing aspects. Perhaps a somewhat more serious test would have been more beneficial for her next match against world-ranked No. 2 Chris Evert.
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Old Jun 26th, 2014, 12:47 AM   #3787
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Alas, "The Times" and "The Independent" online archives start at 1985. At any rate, Steffi had quite an experience at her first main draw Wimbledon. One 10-8 third set and one 7-9.

Tennis: Steffi Graf Eliminated
Hamburger Abendblatt
July 3, 1984
sid

London -- Tears flowed after the defeat. Heidelberg's Steffi Graf (15), No. 56 in the tennis world rankings and the youngest player to reach the round of 16 in the 100 year history of women's singles at Wimbledon, lost against the No. 10 seed Englishwoman Jo Durie 6-3, 3-6, 7-9 after 149 minutes in front of 15,000 spectators.

On the men's side, last year's champion John McEnroe (USA) secured the quarterfinals 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 against his countryman Bill Scanlon, along with Jimmy Connors over Tim Mayotte (both USA) 6-7, 6-2, 6-0, 6-2. In contrast No. 2 seed Ivan Lendl (Czechoslovakia) required five sets to defeat Scott Davis (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.
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Old Jun 26th, 2014, 12:52 AM   #3788
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

"Little Magician"
The British admire Steffi Graf at Wimbledon

Kicker-Sportmagazin
July 1984

Wimbledon's Centre Court was completely full when Claudia Kohde stepped onto the famous turf for her round of 16 match against three-time champion Chris Evert.

Many wanted to be witness to the surprise that not a few experts had quite believed to be possible of the 20-year-old from Saarbrück. But as so often happens in such situations, the nerves can't keep pace with the ambitious expectations that the current best German tennis player also had felt was a quite realistic assessment of her chances. Claudia Kohde was quite obviously not up to the pressure, which mounted and weighed heavily on her --hesitating and afraid where determination and willingness to take risks would have been in place-- stumbled into the traps which get her again and again.

After 73 minutes, already it had collapsed, the bold dream of advancing to the round of the last eight and equaling Bettina Bunge, who had even reached the semifinals two years ago.

Steffi Graf also lost in the same round. But in contrast to Claudia Kohde, the hopeful talent from Brühl near Mannheim went out with flags flying high. After the sad loss against England's last hope, Jo Durie, she at first couldn't hold back her tears. In her disappointment over the missed chance to march into the quarterfinals as the youngest player ever in the now-100-year history of the women's tournament, she even had almost forgotten the obligatory curtsy toward the Royal Box, from which the Duke and Duchess of Kent had watched her match with complete admiration. The winner, eight years her elder and better acquainted with the customs in the Mecca of the white-attired sport, kindly drew her attention to the omission.

The duel on the grass was often enough the other way around from the outcome. For the small, almost fragile-looking little doll repeatedly showed the 10th seeded favorite how world class tennis is played. At the end, Jo Durie could be overjoyed at having still pulled the win out of the fire after being down 1-3 in the third set. "It was nerve wracking," she admitted afterward. "Steffi was quite calm, while I became inwardly more flustered and impatient. She may just be 15-years-old, but she has a much older head on her young shoulders!" The relief of still "having survived" this one time more was unmistakable.

Even in the next encounter, it could be she who tastes defeat, since the experts at Wimbledon were in agreement that Steffi Graf still has a lot to offer the tennis world. Of that, the quick tennis flea herself is obviously firmly convinced, as well. "I want to be champion here one day," said Steffi Graf, very pertly, and made no secret of it that she wants to achieve this goal in two or three years. Her tears, of which she was no way ashamed, were long since dried and her eyes looked straight ahead.

The headlines of the sports pages of London's daily press a day later belonged to Jo Durie, of course, but absolute admiration was aimed at the "little magician" from Germany -- as she was called in one of the headlines. During her first appearance on the venerable Centre Court, she didn't show a trace of nervousness, and even set to work courageously. "Her game looks at least five years older than she actually is," so it went in one of the street papers. And an especially vivid description read thus: "This little tiger on gazelle's feet brightly illuminated a grand theater!"
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Old Jun 26th, 2014, 01:13 AM   #3789
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

"She fundamentally does not like to lose" is quite the understatement. So many media types seemed to mistake "concentration" for "indifference." Martin Amis was one of the few who got it: "But this is what her concentration looks like, when it's on. It is just a frictionless desire to hit the next tennis ball."

A Fifteen-Year-Old Girl and the World of Adults
Hamburger Abendblatt
July 4, 1984
Ulrich Kaiser

There sat 15-year-old Steffi Graf on her courtside chair after her loss against Brit Jo Durie, cried a little and buried her face in the All England Club green and purple towel. Later she sat in front of reporters who endeavored to phrase their questions in the clearest and simplest English possible. She accounted for her tears with the fact that she fundamentally does not like to lose and certainly not a match like that one.

Naturally she would return to Wimbledon, and naturally she hoped to win this tournament one day -- in two or three years or so. One should not hold these optimistically short time spans against a young girl. Two or three years is an inhumanly long time for a teenager -- that is no different even if one can play tennis so well.

There are, as mentioned, doubts: At this age they are justified, since even the carefully cautious parents cannot presently say what will go on in the little head when Steffi Graf is the previously mentioned three years older. No father or mother can do that. The shyly stated request to yet say "Du" and "Steffi" can one day be retracted -- which admittedly would be one of the lesser evils.

This has nothing to do with the fear that assaults one. This feeling has its origin in the already often remarkable coolness with which the young one hits her balls into the other court -- without showing joy at a first-class shot or anger at an error. Even the really good players don't all do that -- and it rarely happens with a 15-year-old. What can be really going on in her? Or the continuously posed question: What would you do if you yourself had a child who causes a sensation in this form? A quick answer to that is certainly not possible, and would even be glib anyway.

The little daughter of the tennis instructor can become one of the greatest some day -- but can also one day have the pains that are caused by the stress of growth -- can quite simply no longer have any desire. Everything is possible. As she left Centre Court and in her disappointment almost forgot to observe the obligatory curtsy to the ducal couple in the Royal Box, she was made aware of her potential faux pas just in time by her opponent.

It was the only time in almost two hours that Steffi Graf was treated like a child. She must live with that. In the big world, she betook upon herself to have nothing given away and not even to think about such a thing occurring. Some help will be required in order to come through this intact.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 12:15 AM   #3790
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Becker draws tough test in first round at Wimbledon - Tennis
The Times
London, England
Wednesday, June 15, 1994
Stuart Jones, Tennis Correspondent

FATE in the draw for the Wimbledon championships yesterday was particularly cruel to tennis players standing at opposite ends of the scale. Those treated least kindly were four former holders of the men's title and the women's champion, as well as all 16 British recipients of a wild card.

Boris Becker, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf will each be accompanied by potential danger when they step out on court at the beginning of next week. A few days later, Stefan Edberg, and especially Michael Stich, will endure a similarly unnerving experience. Becker's consistency is intimidating. Three times the champion and three times the runner-up between 1985 and 1991, he reached the semi-finals last year, but his path is strewn with familiar foes who will be inhibited neither by an inferiority complex nor by grass.

Becker is to feature in one of the outstanding matches of the first round. He starts against David Wheaton, an American with an impressive history. Twice beaten in the fourth round, he fell victim in the semi-finals three years ago, albeit narrowly, to Becker.

Should the seventh seed survive again, he is scheduled to run into German duels. Ahead will probably lie Bernd Karbacher and, in the last four, Stich, who extended him across five sets and 57 games in a memorable quarter-final last year. Assuming Stich lasts that long. His section at the bottom of the draw includes three equally powerful servers in Richard Krajicek, Greg Rusedski and Paul Haarhuis.

Stich, the champion in 1991, opens against a qualifier but awaiting him in the second round will be either Karim Alami, one of only five players to have beaten Pete Sampras this year, or Magnus Larsson, a semi-finalist in the French Open. Agassi, Stich's successor, has been given even less breathing space. Elevated above his ranking, the twelfth seed begins against Andrea Gaudenzi, 20, of Italy, who is a former world junior champion and now lies only 14 places below him. Edberg's attempt to recapture his triumphant years of 1988 and 1990 is likely to be endangered in the second round by Marc Goellner. The German has already beaten the Swedish third seed.

Nor has Jim Courier been spared. The fifth seed and runner-up last year, he is trapped in a section with natural grass-court exponents such as Wally Masur, Guy Forget and Jeremy Bates, who is again destined to carry the main weight of domestic aspirations. Unless his eight colleagues are infected with the collective inspiration of last year, the casualty rate in the first round could be heavy. Barry Cowan, though, could make a name for himself. The 19-year-old takes on Sergi Bruguera, the French Open champion.

Among the women seeds facing premature elimination are Mary Joe Fernandez, Conchita Martinez, Mary Pierce and Gabriela Sabatini. So, remarkably, is Graf. In the opening round, the holder must contend with probably the most talented unseeded woman in the field, Lori McNeil. Ranked twentieth in the world, the American won the title at Edgbaston on Sunday.

British success was thin on the ground at the qualifying tournament yesterday as Colin Beecher, Danny Sapsford, Greg Saffrey and Andrew Richardson all fell by the wayside. Only Gary Henderson managed to stem the flow of defeats when he beat Michael Zimmerman 7-6, 6-4.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 12:17 AM   #3791
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

She's still mentally burnt out and her back is probably bothering her. She didn't even give the traditional defending champion's pre-tournament press conference. There are times when I wish she had been as selfish as some critics claim she was, and put what was best for her ahead of her responsibilities to the tournaments and tennis in general.

Russian uses power strokes to top Courier
The Tampa Tribune
Saturday, June 18, 1994
A Tribune Wire Service Report

HALLE, Germany -- Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, proving his power game is adaptable to grass, outslugged Dade City's Jim Courier 6-1, 6-4 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Halle Grand Prix.

Kafelnikov, the sport's fastest-rising player and in his first grass tournament, needed only one hour to beat the former world No. 1 and finalist last year at Wimbledon.

In today's semifinals, Kafelnikov faces Sweden's eight-seeded Magnus Larsson, who beat German Marc Goellner 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

Top-seeded Michael Stich of Germany ousted defending champion Henri Leconte of France 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Stich will play Australian Wally Masur, a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 winner against Switzerland's Jakob Hlasek.

Graf to skip Federation Cup

BERLIN, Germany -- Steffi Graf said Friday she will not play in the Federation Cup next month.

"I'm in urgent need of a recuperation phase," Graf told the German sports news agency SID.

The world's top-ranked player will play at Wimbledon, starting Monday.

Graf led Germany to the Federation Cup championship in 1987 and 1992.

McGrath keeps streak alive

EASTBOURNE, England -- Unseeded Meredith McGrath, who upset defending champion Martina Navratilova in the quarterfinals, defeated Yayuk Basuki of Indonesia 6-0, 7-5 Friday to advance to the finals of the Eastbourne grass-court tournament.

McGrath will face another unseeded American, Linda Harvey-Wild, in today's championship match. Harvey-Wild won her semifinal 6-4, 7-5 against fourth-seeded Natalia Zvereva of Belarus.

The final will produce the first unseeded champion in the tournament's 20-year history.

Elsewhere

- At Manchester, England, in a match with no breaks of serve, No. 2 seed Patrick Rafter of Australia advanced to the final of the Manchester grass-court tournament with a 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5) victory against unseeded Karel Novacek.

Rafter will meet top seed Wayne Ferreira, a 6-4, 6-4 winner against defending champion Jason Stoltenberg, in today's final.

The Rafter-Novacek match lasted 2 hours, 52 minutes, contained only four break points and ended on a Novacek double fault followed by a service winner from Rafter, who also had 20 aces.

- At St. Poelten, Austria, rain postponed quarterfinal matches in the OTV-Raiffeisen ATP tournament.

Top-seeded Thomas Muster of Austria will play countryman Wolfgang Schranz on center court today.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 12:18 AM   #3792
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Going into Wimbledon 1994, a few voices began to challenge the "Graf is killing tennis" nonsense. Also notable was Sonny Dearth of the Newport News Daily Press: "He didn't mean harm, but NBC's Bud Collins said that by pulling a semifinal upset and reaching the final, Franco-American Mary Pierce had 'liberated' the French Open women's tennis tournament from a German - much as the French and American Allied forces had liberated France from the Germans on D-Day. Inadvertently, Collins managed to compare Steffi Graf to Adolf Hitler. Puh-leeze."

By the Wimbledon semis, most of the English language press will begin to understand that tennis really, really needed Steffi Graf and that maybe rooting for her to fail and gloating when she did was a mistake. Without Steffi's maturity, rationality, professionalism, and sense of perspective to balance out all of the dysfunction, childishness, laziness, hysteria, and incompetence women's tennis would deserve to be ridiculed much, much worse than it was.

TENNIS NEEDS GRAF'S GREATNESS MORE THAN CLOSER COMPETITION
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Sunday, June 19, 1994
Paul Woody

When Steffi Graf lost to Mary Pierce in the semifinals of the French Open this year, the headlines said it was good for tennis.

It was nothing of the sort.

There is a feeling in sports that dominant performances somehow jeopardize the future of a sport.

Graf, the reasoning goes, needs competition to keep the interest alive in the women's tennis tour. If she wins all the time, people will grow bored and professional tennis will suffer.

But Graf is supposed to win. If the other players can't compete with her, that's their fault, not Graf's.

We forget that sports eras are defined by dominant players and teams.

In women's tennis, we are in the Graf era. It's unfortunate that a madman with a knife has deprived us of the opportunity to be in the Graf-Monica Seles era. We've been through the Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert era and the Billie Jean King-Evonne Goolagong Cawley-Evert eras.

Graf had won four consecutive grand slam titles. Women's tennis is far more interesting with her chasing four more grand slam titles.

What's more interesting than watching someone attempting to make history? Who cares if the rest of the players on the women's tour pale in comparison?

Few people care about the rest of the women on the tour. As good as Gabriela Sabatini and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario are, no one gets terribly excited if they play each other in the quarterfinals or semifinals of a tournament.

But put Graf in the semifinals or final of a grand slam tournament, chasing a piece of history, and you've got something worth following.

You could make the argument that if Graf wasn't dominating her sport right now, people would lose interest in women's tennis.

Look at the men's pro golf tour. Is there a dominant player there? There are a lot of very good players, to be sure. But is there one who stands out as did Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Gary Player? Payne Stewart's knickers are interesting, but winning big and often is even more interesting.

Isn't the Seniors tour so popular because of its legends? People remember them and want to witness greatness, even decades after those players were great.

Sports are about passion. How many people watched the dominant New York Yankee teams of the 1950s and '60s because they hated them and wanted to see them lose? Just as many, probably, as watched because they loved them and wanted to see them win.

You've seen the T-shirts: My two favorite teams are the Redskins and whoever the Cowboys are playing.

When the Washington Redskins were rolling through the NFL in 1983, smashing opponents and the NFL single-season scoring record in the process, they were interesting to watch because they were so precise, so deep and so talented. They also were two points away from an undefeated regular season.

The Redskins' matchup with Dallas that season, in the 15th game with the NFC East title on the line, was a game everybody talked about.

No one said the Redskins were bad for football. No one said it was time to break up the Redskins, even when they appeared in their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Of course, after the Los Angeles Raiders broke up the Redskins to the tune of 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII, no one needed to say that.

Perhaps in 1927, people were saying, "Break up the Yankees." But in the decades since, the 1927 Yankees are remembered one of baseball's greatest teams, a team by which other great teams since are measured.

The Yankees won 110 games that year. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs, Lou Gehrig hit 47 and drove in 175 runs, and the Yankees had someone at the top of every American League offensive category with the exception of batting average. Gehrig's .375 was good enough only for third in the American League that season.

People who were alive in 1927, who might have cursed the Yankees then, likely will proudly say now, "I saw the '27 Yankees play."

The same is true of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine of the late 1970s. If you were a fan of any other National League team at that time, the Reds were a big pain. But looking back, it's difficult not to say that Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan were great and that as sports fans, we witnessed something unique when we saw them play.

And that's one reason to lament what has happened to the Dallas Cowboys during this off-season.

Just as the Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the NFL in the '70s and the San Francisco 49ers, Redskins and New York Giants were the teams of the '80s, the Cowboys had a chance to be the team of the '90s.

They had the rare combination of talented players along with coaching and motivation, that they were able to overcome injuries and the general letdown that follows a Super Bowl championship to win another Super Bowl.

We won't know until the season is played, of course, whether the Cowboys can remain dominant. The loss of head coach Jimmy Johnson figures to have far more impact on the team than the newly imposed salary cap.

The Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Phoenix Cardinals might think that's just fine. History, however, will not.

No one walks around saying, "Remember that great 9-7 Redskins team that made the playoffs?"

Greatness can be hard to stomach if it continually thwarts your favorite team or athlete.

Greatness, though, is what makes history books and what makes the sporting life a bit more interesting to follow.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 12:20 AM   #3793
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

McNeil and weather give Graf trouble
ALAN ATTWOOD
June 21, 1994
The Age

London, Tuesday: Something unusual happened to Steffi Graf recently. She got beaten.

Badly. Mary Pierce demolished her 6-2, 6-2 at the French Open and made the world No.1 seem uncharacteristically powerless and confused.

Until today, that was her last tournament match. After leaving Paris, Graf practised on grass in London, returned to Germany for her 25th birthday and came back to London to meet tour veteran Lori McNeil in her opening match of this year's Wimbledon championships.

There was more interest in this match than usually accompanies a Graf first-round outing. Partly this was due to Graf being a last-up loser; partly because McNeil, aged 30 and ranked 22, is a right-handed serve- volleyer who won the Birmingham tournament two weeks ago.

She is also one of only two women to have beaten Graf in the opening round of a WTA tournament since January 1985. McNeil managed the feat two years ago, and given Graf's troubled disposition lately - plus whatever damage Pierce did to her psyche - she was given a reasonable chance of doing it again.

But with keen interest in the match, the weather intervened to dampen everything today. With the first set score locked at 5-5, after a string of broken service games, rain forced a suspension of play. When the match resumed, McNeil needed just two games to take the set 7-5.

Graf lost the set with a double-fault.

Graf was soon in more trouble in the second set, and had to fend off a break point in her first service game. She managed this with a strong first serve, forced her ragged game up a gear and led 3-2 when rain again intervened. For Graf, it was already an infinitely tougher workout than her first-round match last year, when she walloped Australia's Kirrily Sharpe 6-0, 6-0.

Rain also halted the first-round showdown between Australians Patrick Rafter and Jamie Morgan. Rafter managed to claim the first set 6-4 before the interruption. After dropping serve in the fifth game, Morgan levelled the score at 4-4 by breaking back. But Rafter broke again and comfortably served out the set.

Before today's rain, the third-seeded women's player, Conchita Martinez, and ninth seed Lindsay Davenport both won their first-round matches. In the match that Pierce had been scheduled to play before death threats forced her to pull out, Davenport beat Frenchwoman Julie Halard 6-1, 6-4.

Today's weather also left Richard Fromberg still waiting to finish the match he had begun almost 24 hours earlier. When light failed yesterday evening, with Fromberg keen to continue, the Tasmanian had just won the third set against Germany's Hendrik Dreekman, led by two sets to one, and wanted to get on with it.

The urgency of his play somehow seemed symptomatic of a good showing by Australian players in the first round of singles matches.

There was a string of giant-killing efforts. Darren Cahill, ranked 217 in the world, defeated Richard Krajicek, ranked 23rd. Michael Tebbutt (160) accounted for Robbie Weiss (110); Jason Stoltenberg (44) was a straight-sets winner over Paul Haarhuis (28).

Most spectacularly, Louise Field (ranked 226 and a qualifier) beat Chanda Rubin (32). And Australia's top-ranked woman, Kristine Radford (63), swept through Angelica Gavaldon (97) without conceding a game.

Men's singles, first round: O Delaitre (Fra) d R Gilbert (Fra) 6-2, 7- 5, 7-5; K Thorne (US) d J Grabb (US) 3-2, retired; J Bjorkman (Swe) d M Petchey (Brit) 6-2, 6-1, 2-6, 2-6, 6-1.

Women's singles, first round: 3-C Martinez (Spn) d R Simpson-Alter (Can) 6-1, 6-3; 9-L Davenport (US) d J Halard (Fra) 6-1, 6-4; T Price (S Af) d A Strnadova (Czech Rep) 6-3, 7-5; P Langrova (Czech Rep) d H Kelesi (Can) 7-6 (8-6), 6-2; F Labat (Arg) d 15-S Hack (Ger) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4; A Dechaume-Balleret (Fra) d K Nagatsuka (Jpn) 6-3, 7-5; M Werdel (US) d B Fulco-Villella (Arg) 6-2, 5-7, 6-2; 16-Magdalena Maleeva (Bulg) d S Stafford (US) 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-4; N Miyagi (Jpn) d L Raymond (US) 4-6, 7-5, 8-6; A Smashnova (Isr) d E Maniokova (Russ) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5; I Gorrochategui (Arg) d D Graham (US) 6-3, 6-1; L Neiland (Latv) d K Adams (US) 6-4, 6-3; Y Kamio (Jpn) d P Begerow (Ger) 6-0, 6-2.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 12:22 AM   #3794
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Steffi Graf: The good, the bad, all of it, got me to the life I live today. Leave it in.

Ms. Anthropic: Okay!

Steffi Graf: I didn't mean you.

Graf upset by McNeil
Daily Breeze
Torrance, CA
Tuesday, June 21, 1994
David Crary, Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- Lori McNeil upset five-time champion Steffi Graf in the first round of Wimbledon today, beating the world's top- ranked player 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

It was the earliest a reigning champion was ousted from Wimbledon.

Overcoming high winds and rain delays, McNeil, long considered a dangerous grass-court player who never fulfilled her potential, played cleverly and courageously on Centre Court. She served well despite the gusts and hit away from Graf's forehand.

"It doesn't hurt to lose my crown - it hurts to lose," Graf said.

Graf, seeking her fourth straight title here, had not lost in the first round of any tournament since the Virginia Slims championship in 1992. Her opponent then was McNeil.

That was the 30-year-old American's first and only victory in nine career meetings with Graf until today.

Graf seemed to be more troubled by the wind, especially on her service toss. In the tie-breaker, she saved two match points before McNeil -- charging the net right to the end -- put a forehand volley out of Graf's reach.

McNeil, although winner of four grass court titles, had never done well in 10 previous Wimbledons. Her best showing was a quarterfinal loss in 1986 to Hana Mandlikova.

She will now be considered one of the contenders in a wide-open race for the women's title. Graf's ouster also boosted the chances of 37-year- old Martina Navratilova to win a 10th crown in what she says will be her last Wimbledon.

Graf and McNeil battled to 5-5 in the first set before the first rain interruption. Play resumed after 86 minutes, and McNeil won the set 7-5 on a double fault by Graf.

The German began to cope better with the gusty winds in the second set, and was about to serve while leading 3-2 when rain again halted play for 1 hour, 40 minutes.

The players stayed on serve until the 10th game, when McNeil -- with help from a great lob to go up 0-30 -- broke Graf to level the set at 5-5.

Not since 1985, when she had just turned 16, had Graf lost more than four games in her first-round match at Wimbledon. She won the title in 1988 and 1989, and again each of the past three years.

McNeil, though unseeded, holds a No. 22 world ranking and is one of the best grass-court players on the women's tour. She trailed Graf 1-8 in career meetings, but won their last encounter at the Virginia Slim championships in 1992.

The two had never before played on grass.

If McNeil won, Graf would be the woman's champion at Wimbledon to lose in the first round the year after winning the title.

Both players were inconsistent. Twice McNeil broke Graf's serve, only to see Graf bear down and break back immediately.

In other matches, third-seeded Conchita Martinez, a surprise semifinalist last year, beat Canada's Rene Simpson-Alter, 6-1, 6-3, and ninth-seeded Lindsay Davenport (Chadwick School) beat France's Julie Halard, 6-1, 6-4.

No. 15 Sabine Hack of Germany became the first seeded woman to lose, falling to Florencia Labat of Argentina, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

In a two-hour battle, Nana Miyagi of Japan, ranked only 181st, rallied to a 4-6, 7-5, 8-6 victory over Lisa Raymond, who reached the fourth round last year.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 12:27 AM   #3795
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

"I hurt myself today / To see if I still feel. / I focus on the pain. / The only thing that's real." -- Nine Inch Nails, "Hurt," The Downward Spiral, 1994

MCNEIL KNOCKS OUT NO. 1 GRAF
San Antonio Express-News
Wednesday, June 22, 1994
Steve Wilstein, The Associated Press

Lori McNeil punched shots with unrelenting precision at Steffi Graf 's backhand, attacking her single flaw, breaking her down methodically, and dethroning a reigning Wimbledon women's champion in the opening round for the first time in history.

McNeil slapped a forehand volley into an open court to end the match and claim a 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) victory Tuesday evening. With the win, she put a memorable touch on one of the greatest upsets ever in tennis and closed out a riveting five-hour drama.

"It doesn't hurt to lose my crown - it hurts to lose," said Graf, who had won three consecutive Wimbledon titles.

Coupled with her defeat to Mary Pierce in the French Open semifinals, it was the first time since January 1985 that Graf had lost two consecutive matches on the women's tour.

This time, they were on Centre Court -Graf's home away from home, the site of her five championships, and McNeil summarily evicted her.

At 30, McNeil had never even come close to winning Wimbledon, had lost in the second round last year, and in the third round the three years before that. In the past 10 years, she had gotten as far as the quarterfinals only once, in 1986, when she seemed such a promising prospect from the playgrounds of Houston.

Now, here she was ranked No. 22 and beating Graf with cleverness and crisp strokes, serves that exposed Graf's weak backhand, volleys that throttled Graf's power and lobs that left Graf looking silly.

"I never felt comfortable or confident the whole match," Graf said. "All my shots were on and off."

McNeil knew how to beat Graf -she had done it the last time they played at the 1992 Virginia Slims Championship in New York's Madison Square Garden - but this was a different place and circumstance.

The wind swirled and the rain forced them off the slick court twice for long, nervous waits - the first one lasting nearly 1 hours, the second one an hour and 46 minutes. Actress Robin Givens, McNeil's friend, helped her relax by telling her jokes during the interruptions.

Graf had no injuries and made no excuses. Nor did she play badly. She simply made a few critical mistakes, including a double fault that cost her the first set.

Basically, she was outplayed by McNeil.

"She was definitely feeling uncomfortable," McNeil said. "She's been winning all year, and a lot of her matches haven't been close. Then all of a sudden she's down set points. That's a real different situation."

The quality of McNeil's performance was especially evident when she came back from a break down with Graf serving for the second set at 5-4. On the first point, McNeil angled a backhand crosscourt that Graf backhanded into the net.

McNeil made it love-30 with a brilliant backhand lob that Graf couldn't touch.

Two points later, McNeil reached out to scoop up a hard forehand by Graf, and dropped the ball just over the net for a winner. Graf saved one break point, but succumbed on the next when she netted a volley by McNeil.

Through all the distractions, under all the pressure, McNeil looked composed, as if she expected to beat Graf. If she did, she didn't have much company. She cost thousands of British bettors a lot of money. The legal sports books had made Graf the biggest favorite in the Open era, with bettors taking her at 2-7 odds.

French Open champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, a 6-1, 6-2 victor over Katerina Maleeva, moved into the favorite's spot. Jana Novotna is second at 9-2, and McNeil jumped from 101-1 to 7-1.

Graf didn't consider the loss the biggest upset of her career, "because of who I lost to. It was a very difficult first round, and she has always had the ability to play the top players."

Asked whether McNeil could now reach the finals, Graf considered it for a moment and shook her head.

"I don't think so, no," she said.

"That's her opinion," McNeil said. "I'm not going to say. I'm just going to focus on my next match. It's hard in the second round to say, 'I'll go all the way.' That's looking way ahead, but we'll see.

"In my career, I've had some great wins and I've had some bad losses. But I'm really mature as a person off the court, and I think that's helped me on the court.''

Women's No. 3 Conchita Martinez, a surprise semifinalist last year, beat Rene Simpson-Alter 6-1, 6-3. No. 9 Lindsay Davenport, just back from her high school graduation in California, beat Julie Halard 6-1, 6-4. Anke Huber, No. 12, beat Jo Durie 7-5, 6-2, and No. 16 Magdelena Maleeva defeated Shaun Stafford 6-7 (8-6), 6-2, 6-4. No. 15 Sabine Hack lost to Florencia Labat 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

Among the men, No. 9 seed Andrei Medvedev beat Ronald Agenor 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, and No. 14 Marc Rosset won 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) over David Witt.

Because of the rain delays, the featured men's matches - No. 2 seed Michael Stich against Bryan Shelton, and No. 5 Jim Courier against Byron Black - were postponed until Wednesday.
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