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Re: 1996



The start of something big
Gerard Wright
January 14, 1996
The Sunday Age

Although she is only 15, Martina Hingis may already be doing more for women's tennis than any other player. Gerard Wright reports.

MARTINA HINGIS is the anti-Capriati. As fair as Jennifer Capriati was dark. Slight where Capriati was, ahem, solid.

All angles and deception where Capriati was straight lines and full-on power. Happy, settled and ambitious when Capriati was nurturing a chip on the shoulder. Guided where Capriati was pushed.

She signs autographs with a half-smile, shrugs off losses and on-court temper fits with grace and wit, regards this second long lap around the globe as an adventure, not a grind.

She graces a court with panache, imagination and passion, as anyone who saw her first-round, three-set match in Sydney against Naoko Sawamatsu would attest.

At White City, rugby league giants such as Bradley Clyde could arrive relatively unmolested. Hingis' passage was always notable for the trail of autograph seekers in her wake.

This is part of what Melanie Zogg created when she put a wooden racquet, sawn off at the handle, in her two-year-old daughter's hand in their home in an apartment block in what was then Czechoslovakia, all those years ago - 1982-83 in fact.

''I started really early, just when I could walk," Hingis recalls. She began hitting balls for about 10 minutes a day.

Her first tennis memory is of the following year, hitting on a clay court with her mother, a rally in which she hit the ball 299 times over the net, full court.

''. . . and the 300 was in the net."

She pulls a face at the memory. She looks, talks and acts like the 15-year-old that she is. She already plays tennis like very few adults can. She sees the tennis court as a great chess player sees the board, according to Daniel Fricker of the Zurich newspaper 'Blick', who has travelled to Perth to report Hingis' exploits in the Hopman Cup.

The player that Australia saw for the first time last year and took immediately to its heart at what was then the NSW Open is older, smarter, more athletic, more aggressive, hits the ball harder and is more conversant in English this time, which means that she can tell a remarkable story in (mostly) her own words.

The interview headed in the same direction along two separate paths, with answers in German and English. Some of Hingis' answers begin in her second language and end in her first, with Fricker offering to translate the difference.

At home in Switzerland, she takes two hours of lessons each days, ''English and French . . . and more English."

She played her first competitive match as a four year-old, in an under-nine competition. She remembers she lost, 12-0.

``At five and six, I play a little better. At six and seven, I won all these tournaments. Won one of them playing left-hand because a finger was broken on my right hand."

She remembers playing in her birthplace of Kosice, near the Slovakian border.

''Always, 40 kids on the court, and the whole afternoon we were playing games, doubles, mixed, everything. I was five, six years old." No one told her she had a special talent, she says through Fricker. ''It was like a fact."

Then, in her own words: ''It was normal that I played so good. That was from the practising and so much play. I was four or five hours on the court. I was not unhappy. I was always with the the kids and we played."

Hingis moved with her mother to Switzerland when she was eight. Less than six years later, she had become a cause celebre in women's tennis - not the reason that laws limiting the age at which an outstanding child player could turn professional were being re-written, but nevertheless, the focus for them.

The initial intention, contained in a report commissioned by the Women's Tennis Association, had been to raise the minimum age from 14 to 16 to reduce the risk of burnout to its youngest members.

Hingis' agents, the International Management Group, protested that because she had already announced her intention to turn professional on her 14th birthday, 30 September 1994, she would be retrospectively penalised by such a change to the rules. It was also believed that IMG was prepared to back up these protests with court action.

The ensuing compromise allowed Hingis to play 12 tournaments in her first 12 months of professional life and 15 in the next.

Perhaps not surprisingly, her new peers were suspicious, or at least sceptical, about the heat and light generated by this First Coming, as Hingis sensed at the time.

''At the start it was (let's see) if she can play . . . the press has made everything. They wanted proof.

''After I played to my standard, played pretty good (she won her first professional match, against American Patty Fendick, a top 50 player, and reached the quarter-finals of her second and third tournaments), partnered all the other girls (in practice) . . ."

In Australia last summer, further substance was added to the hype: an absorbing three-set match with American Lindsay Davenport, ranked sixth in the world, at the NSW Open - this after the usually blase dressing-room occupants dropped everything to loll in the sun on the White City lawn adjoining centre court to watch Hingis dismantle 40th-ranked American Meredith McGrath in three sets. In Melbourne, she became the youngest player since 1968 to win an Australian Open singles match.

This was just the start. There followed a third-round appearance at the French Open and a journey into the second week at the US Open, marked by a second-round win over eighth seed Magdalena Maleeva.

Wimbledon was part examination, part coming out, as though, finally, she was being formally presented to the wider sporting and social society. Her first match was on centre court. Against Steffi Graf.

Hingis has thought long and hard about that match and how she approached it. Not many tennis players talk this way. She said 1995 was a great experience, especially tournaments such as Hamburg, where she reached the final, and the US Open.

Berlin (second-round loss to Sabine Hack), ''Ooohhh, yecchhh! . . . but Wimbledon was also not the best."

Hingis laughed at the memory and continued. ''It was hard. I know that on the first day, I had to play Steffi Graf and she lost last year in the first round - now she wants to win the tournament again and she's in good form and everything. You are going on the court already resigned.

''For me, it was like feeling I was already . . . I tried to play my best, but it was very difficult, especially because you could not practise there (centre court). The other courts were much faster and this court was like a carpet."

But Hingis has long since come of age on the tennis court, and disputes any suggestion that this has happened at the cost of either a childhood or a normal life - in the sporting sense anyway.

''That's not true. Look at the other kids. Swimming is so hard, and gymnastics. Why don't you ask them? At 14-15, they start to make this (level) and they're so little and they have problems. If you're in a hotel like here, I don't think it's a bad life, tennis."

When the age issue and its worst-case scenario, Jennifer Capriati, is pursued, it's as though Hingis' face is suddenly wiped clean of any expression. She answers unassisted.

''Always they're American girls who have died (sic) from tennis. They have to look to themselves and not always speak about the Europeans. It's different. I think they have problems with the family.

''Andrea Jaeger used to practise five, six hours. I practice one-and-a-half, two hours a day. It's different. There are problems with the family, not a problem with tennis. I never looked to Andrea Jaeger or Tracy Austin. I am Martina Hingis and I have my own way to grow."

Gradually, she thaws again. The composed near-adult of the court and the press conference, is a smart, gregarious teenager who has met her peers more than half-way, and in so doing, she says, has encouraged them out of their off-court enclaves and into the sunshine.

She plays doubles with Iva Majoli, enjoys the company of Anke Huber and Chanda Rubin. She will hit on the practice court with anyone.

In real life, tennis is a sociable sport, an agreeable way, as a rugby writer once said of his chosen pursuit, to raise a thirst. Gradually, by Hingis' reckoning, this view is seeping into women's tennis. It's a war only on the court.

''I think it changed because I was coming in, because I was normal (laughs) and I was speaking with them, speaking with everybody. Others also wanted to change a little bit, but they had not chance, because nobody wants them (to talk)."

She is ranked 16th in the world now (87th a year ago), and has the ability and the personality to change the way women's tennis is regarded.

At the Peters International (formerly the NSW Open) last week, she played the most enthralling match of the women's tournament, against Naoko Sawamatsu, a contest featuring missed match points, racquets bounced and thrown (Hingis both), excuses mentally rehearsed (by Sawamatsu, the eventual winner as she faced three match points) and breathtaking shot play.

Hingis continues to bring out the best in her oppponents, even as she continues to explore her capabilities. She and the game may be on the threshold of something remarkable.
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Re: 1996

Monica's close call
By PETER KOGOY
January 14, 1996
Sun Herald

IN THE end it was just the tough preparation Monica Seles needed to tune up for this week's Australian Open.

The No 1 seed at the Peters International had to save three set points in the first set and was pushed all the way at White City yesterday by Holland's Brenda Schultz-McCarthy.

Seles is on target to win her first Sydney title after the 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 semi-final win.

She will play fellow American Lindsay Davenport, who fought back from 5-2 down in the third set to beat Japan's Kimiko Date 6-2 4-6 7-5.

Thunderous cheers echoed around White City as Seles proudly walked off after her fourth straight win over Schultz-McCarthy. But the world No 5 made Seles work hard for every game in hot and humid conditions.

Seles raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set before Schultz-McCarthy began to find her rhythm. The underdog, with her left thigh heavily strapped, broke Seles's serve in the fifth game with a deftly placed backhand drop volley.

It wasn't vintage Seles and her opponent was anything but cannon fodder. She drew level at 4-4 and suddenly it was a different match.

But Seles toughed it out, no doubt inspired by a crowd that got noisier as the match progressed. Schultz-McCarthy forced the tie-break when she again had Seles struggling to reach a drop volley.

Seles got her booming service going in the second set but Seles thrilled the biggest crowd at White City in 15 years with some brilliant returns of service.

The eight-time grand slam singles winner, who has grown about 5cm since her last appearance in Australia, was a player with a mission.

She said she needed the match practice for the Australian Open starting this week at Flinders Park in Melbourne.

After her 78-minute victory, she declared: "I found Brenda really tough out there today. I believe I got very, very lucky in the tie-break."

Seles admitted it was tough returning Schultz-McCarthy's booming service.

"I tried hard not to look at the courtside speedometer, but my curiosity got in the way."

A disappointed Schultz-McCarthy rued surrendering the first set. "I started a little nervously and felt I didn't hit my first serve as I should have," she said.

"Every time I thought I had a chance of getting on top I somehow lost concentration, and that was upsetting."

In the other semi-final, Davenport used her power game to overwhelm Date. Davenport looked dead and buried when Date served for the match at 5-2 but she rattled off five straight games to win.

The American looked in control in cruising past Date in the opening set in just 25 minutes. But the Japanese woman, despite being troubled by a hip injury, levelled.

Date took command of the third set but Davenport clawed her way back with a mixture of gutsy and glorious shots.

The inconsistency that dogged Davenport disappeared and she got her kicking serve working to pound in deliveries at up to 164km/h. Her backhand was also on target as she fired 11 clear winners.

Injuries have plagued the 25-year-old Date, with a torn stomach muscle ending her hopes in last year's White City tournament.

But she said the injury wouldn't stop her from competing at the Australian Open.

"I want to do better than being knocked out in the third round last year," she said.
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Re: 1996

No. 1 still goal for Sanchez Vicario
Richard Hinds
January 14, 1996
The Sunday Age

ARANTXA Sanchez Vicario left the Australian Open last year as the newly crowned world No. 1. She returned this year having taken Steffi Graf to three sets at Wimbledon in a match highlighted by that single incredible game that lasted 20 minutes and 32 points.

But, for her, there is still no respect.

In Sydney last week, if Monica Seles sneezed a dozen reporters were on hand to wipe her nose.

At Flinders Park yesterday, just a handful of reporters heard the Spaniard say all the usual things about her preparation for the Australian Open.

To most, it seems, Sanchez Vicario's 15-week reign as (statistically) the best player in the world was just a glitch in the WTA tennis computer.

Publicly, at least, Sanchez Vicario is not perturbed by the lack of respect. ``If I tell you the truth, it's not something I think (about) too much," she says.

``I just know that I was there and it's something everyone is dreaming as a player, to be No. 1. And it's not only being one week, I was there for 15 weeks and for me it was great because my dream turned real."

More important to Sanchez Vicario right now is making a strong start to the season after a slump late last year. Having won tournaments in Germany and Barcelona, and lost the Wimbledon final to Graf 7-5 in the third set, Sanchez Vicario lost in the fourth round at the US Open and did not make another final.

Her response was to take two weeks off after the US Open and she has not played a match since November.

During her time off, Sanchez Vicario says she got away from the game. ``I just tried to be with my friends and do things that I like to - read, listen to music, play other sports, relax with my friends and don't talk about tennis at all for a long time".

She also trained with her brothers Emilio and Javier, both professionals. ``They beat me, but for me it's nice that they ask me to play. I have to run even more, but it's good practice for me."

Having dropped behind Graf, Seles and Conchita Martinez in the rankings, Sanchez Vicario's first hurdle on the long road back is a likely Australian Open semi-final clash with the hot favorite, Seles.

``It's great that she's back," says Sanchez Vicario. ``It's going to be hard to get her from the top spot, but the more competition the better. If you want to be the best you have to beat everyone, so it's even better that she's back."
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Re: 1996

Relaxed Seles is tougher than ever
Judy Dalton
January 14, 1996
The Sunday Age

LET'S be frank: any prediction other than a fourth Ford Australian Open title for Monica Seles would be considered madness. But that may not be as clear-cut as it seems.

Seles has played only three tournaments since the 1993 stabbing, and while her results have been spectacular considering her long hiatus, injuries have not made her comeback comfortable.

First, a knee problem; and then ankle troubles prevented her from playing several tournaments, including the WTA Tour championship. Despite the brilliant beginning, more match play would have provided a better indication of the effects of Seles' long layoff.

She has lost little, if anything, as a result of her break.

Indeed, the extra few centimetres and kilograms have contributed to an improved serve, and her ground strokes have the same venom as when she dominated the women's game from 1991.

The other difference now is her growing fondness for the volley. While never threatening to become a serve-volleyer, she is taking more frequent advantage of her strength at the baseline, and the opportunities that creates to finish off points at the net.

Mentally, she is as strong as ever and she also seems to be more relaxed. In the past she always said she enjoyed her tennis and denied feeling the pressure, but I'm not certain if that was true. Now, I'm sure it is.

Again, we won't see the dream final of Seles v Steffi Graf, winners of six of the past seven Opens. But despite the continued criticisms of women's tennis, the depth has increased through the emergence of young players such as Martina Hingis, Chanda Rubin and Iva Majoli and the improvement in Anke Huber, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and Amanda Coetzer.

Seles won't be lamenting the absence of Czech Jana Novotna, along with Graf and world No. 6 Maggie Maleeva the only three of the top bracket missing from Flinders Park this year.

Instead, we must look to the Spaniards, particularly third seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. Last year's finalist seems to have taken the controversial granting of Seles' joint No.1 ranking with Graf particularly hard, which may have been reflected by her results in the second last half of the year.

With her determination, speed and great ground strokes, Sanchez Vicario has the armory to challenge Seles.

But let's not exclude world No. 2 Conchita Martinez, who won't have to jump the Seles hurdle until the final, should she get there. On her present form, that seems unlikely, but then nobody predicted her Wimbledon triumph in 1994, and she reached the semi-finals of all four grand slams in 1995.

Defending champion Mary Pierce's confidence could carry her to a second title, but her mental fragility could cost her. Pierce has reached the quarter-finals only four times in 15 grand-slams. She has the height, strength and game to challenge Seles, but perhaps not the tenacity.

Of the others, Huber showed in her five-set final loss to Graf at the end-of-year championships that she is not too far away. Her consistency in the big events was confirmed by her performance in reaching the last 16 at all four, but the young German needs to be more adventurous if she is to take the next step.

Of the Australians, Nicole Bradtke again heads the list.

In 10 appearances she has reached the fourth round twice, but her lack confidence in her ability to volley more has always held her back.

Women's tennis in Australia seems to have stagnated in recent years, with Bradtke and Rachel McQuillan still the leading duo. There were positive signs towards the end of 1995, with Rennae Stubbs lifting her ranking into the 80s and the emergence of teenager Annabel Ellwood. But, still, not positive enough.
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Re: 1996

AFTER EKING OUT WIN, SELES CALLS DAVENPORT `UNBELIEVABLE'
USA Today
January 14, 1996
By Doug Smith

Monica Seles remained unbeaten in Australia Sunday, defeating Lindsay Davenport 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 at the Peters International in Sydney.

Seles injured her right hip during the victory, but a WTA TOUR official said Monday the injury isn't expected to stop Seles from pursuing a fourth Australian Open title.

Top seed Seles, co-No. 1 in the world, plays qualifier Janet Lee; defending champion Mary Pierce (No. 4) faces Petra Schwarz; and No. 2 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario plays Beate
Reinstadler in the first round. Also, No. 6 Gabriela Sabatini meets Shaun Stafford, and No. 10 Davenport plays Christina Singer.

With Steffi Graf absent because of foot surgery, Seles is a heavy favorite for her ninth grand slam title.

"I was disappointed when Steffi pulled out of Australia because of the great match we had in '93 in the finals and back in (last year's) U.S. Open," Seles says. "Mary will be very tough because of how well she did there last year. I'd say Gaby (Sabatini) and Sanchez Vicario also will be tough."

Davenport showed Sunday that she, too, is capable of giving Seles a tough time.

Davenport, 19, fought back in the tiebreaker after losing the first two points and held match point at 6-5. But Seles began the turnaround with a dramatic double-handed backhand
winner. When Davenport hit a double fault at 7-7, Seles heaved a sigh of relief and served out to tie the match.

"I came within one point of having my (career unbeaten) record broken," Seles said. "She played unbelievable tennis, and it was sheer luck that I won. It was 50-50 to the last point."

Davenport impressed Seles in their first meeting.

"I think she has an amazing future," Seles said.
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Re: 1996

TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD
HEATHER SMITH
January 15, 1996
Sydney Morning Herald

Monica Seles dredged up all the qualities of a true champion to haul in the courageous Lindsay Davenport in the final of the International at White City yesterday - the second title in three attempts for Seles since her comeback last year. HEATHER SMITH reports.

THE MARK of a champion tennis player is not just a great forehand, backhand or serve. Nor is it superior fitness, court speed or concentration.

Monica Seles has all of the above, but she stands alone because she possesses the rarest of athletic qualities - courage to go for a winner when staring at defeat.

Perhaps, the most fearsome sight in women's tennis is Seles fighting her way out of a corner. The worse her position, the louder her grunt of effort and the more ferocious her whippy, two-handed groundstrokes.

The second mark of a champion is when she wins a match, and a title, she had all but lost.

Seles did that yesterday at White City, claiming her first Sydney tournament victory in the Peters International with a heroic comeback against US fourth seed Lindsay Davenport 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-3. It was her second title in three tournaments since returning to tennis at last August's Canadian Open.

And this was only part of the reason why the 2hr 14min women's final secured a place as one of the tournament's all-time great contests.

For not only did Seles, nursing a pulled groin muscle in her right leg, push herself to the limit, her less-acclaimed but highly-talented opponent also played the match of her young life, enthralling a packed centre-court crowd.

This was tennis at its best. Tremendous shot-making, fierce determination, brilliant lunging saves, power, finesse and more. As Seles said later, to pick the victor was a 50-50 proposition right up to the last point.

Seles gave everything she had to work herself into a winning position, after trailing first by a set and 4-5, then facing a match point against her in the tie breaker.

The 1.89m Davenport pressed Seles unrelentingly with her penetrating serve and well-weighted groundstrokes, coming within an ace - and several double-faults - of causing a huge upset. Not since October 1993, when Brenda Schultz took her all the way before crumbling in the third set of their quarter-final in Chicago, had Seles been under so much pressure.

At its height, however, the world's co-ranked No 1 player moved up another gear. Seles, with all the compassion of a serial killer, broke her opponent to love as Davenport served for the match and a $100,000 first prize.

Then, at match point, 5-6 down in the second set tie-break, Seles hit a huge backhand winner to escape again. From there she was able to claim the set, helped by a double-fault from her opponent on the penultimate point.

The third set was another prolonged battle, as first Davenport, then Seles, were forced into service breaks.

The decisive moment came when Davenport, losing the hard edge on her serve after two hours in the sun, hit consecutive double-faults to drop the fifth game. As the top seed gained in confidence, Davenport scrambled to stay in the match and produced stunning winners to stave off two match points when serving at 3-5.

But it was the three-time Australian Open victor who converted the final match-winner, a forehand return down the line.

The result maintained Seles's unbeaten run in Australia and improved her match record to 15-1 since coming back to tennis last year after her 1993 stabbing.

DESPITE receiving on-court treatment for the groin strain during a change of ends in the second set, Seles was confident the injury was not serious and "hopefully" wouldn't hamper her during the Australian Open, starting in Melbourne today.

Seles flew straight out of Sydney after her post-match press conference to get on-site physiotherapy at Flinders Park.

Before dashing out of White City, she praised Davenport, describing the 19-year-old Californian as the type of player who could "definitely" beat her.

"Lindsay is a player who hits some very hard groundstrokes and some great angles, and she was serving well and hitting some great returns," Seles said.

"I had to play some great tennis. We both produced some great shots out there. She's so young - I think she has an amazing future. I also think she can become No. 1."

Seles said she did not go into yesterday's final with the mental approach she would have liked. Without going into details, she alluded to some off-court problems, which she said affected her at the start of the match. "I shouldn't have taken them on to the court with me," she said. "But even if I had come in 100 per cent I still think the score would probably have been the same."

Davenport, who lost to Gabriela Sabatini in last year's final, has plenty of time ahead of her. No-one will forget the skill and temperament she displayed in a losing effort here.

For a player who until yesterday had not played, or even spoken to, the most talked-about player in women's tennis, she was remarkably composed.

After all, there is no shame in losing honourably to "one of the greatest players who ever played".

"She came up with some great shots at the right time and that's why she's Monica Seles. She doesn't lose very often," said Davenport.

"I don't think I really could have done much more. I tried my hardest, I went for the shots I thought I needed to go for and I played the way I wanted to. I'm very pleased with the way I played.

"I didn't get discouraged, I hung in there and it showed me - and hopefully some other people - that I can play good tennis."

She added: "I didn't know really what to expect. I was thinking, 'God, I hope it's not love and love'. I (just) wanted to make it a good match."
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Re: 1996



Mega-tough Monica is no moocher
JEFF WELLS
January 15, 1996
Sydney Morning Herald

They met under a blazing sky with cannons in their hands.

The big one said: "Ya can shoot first, pilgrim, but ya'll be lookin' into the sun. Don't miss." The smaller one squinted and drawled: "Whatever ya say, pardner. Ya can drill me fulla more lead than a pencil, but I'll still kill ya."

And so it was. Monica Seles is back and she turns White City into Dodge City. She goes up against Lindsay Davenport and suddenly women's tennis is turned from a Muppet movie into a John Ford western. They should be calling her "Duchess". She's tougher than "Duke" Wayne.

And Lindsay? At just 19 her victims may be calling her Dirty Lindsay before long. Are you feeling lucky, punk? The big lady at the other end packs a two-handed .357 Magnum for a backhand and, even a couple of years ago, when she first loomed up at the Australian Open, people were calling her forehand Big Bertha.

The voice of Lindsay Davenport was heard across the land recently in the equal-pay-for-women issue at the Australian Open. To put it bluntly, she wanted more.

Hey, who am I to argue, ma'am? Honestly, it was just a slip of the tongue. Please don't kill me. What I meant to say was that women should be more equal than men.

If all women's tennis was like this they would cancel Gladiators. After the seventh game of the second set Monica collapsed in her chair like a gut-shot deer and a trainer came sprinting across the court. Soon after, ballpersons and officials set up a screen around her with towels.

"Holy Dooley," shouted a desperate in the cheap seats, who must have seen the screens go up and the gun go off at Randwick once too often. "They're going to put her down." But all they were doing was strapping her right thigh, for a groin strain.

You couldn't put Monica down with an elephant gun.

But she did get all she could handle from Lindsay. Nobody would have blamed her for tanking - for saving herself for the big one this week - when she was a set down and the heat was brutal. We have all seen male tennis players blubbering over fingernail strains.

But Monica rolls on. If this keeps up she could become a bigger legend than Dean Jones.

And it is not like this was the real Monica. She started off like a pitiful simulacrum. And even when she got warmed up and nasty she was way short of her best. Operator, get me Bart Cummings. She needs a perfect preparation to win the Open.

But take nothing away from Davenport. When Seles started hobbling their mobility looked about equal - Lindsay is somewhat glacial about the court.

So this set up a knockdown brawl between the two biggest punchers in the women's game, and Davenport didn't back off. It was probably mental fatigue that saw her wilt at the end of 2hr 14min, with Seles taking it 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-3.

Davenport went out there with a real problem in her first meeting with Seles. The only way anybody can hope to play Monica is to cut down her angles. Give her an angle and she will run you to death and kill two-handed on both sides.

And Lindsay is no Tinkerbell between shots. If anybody was open to being run around by Monica it was she.

But, on the other hand, how many times do you get to play Seles when she is struggling for fitness? And, if you don't want to risk rallies down the middle, you may have to try to stretch her. Davenport started playing down the middle but her best moments came when she took the risks in the cross-court duels.

There may be more bolder opponents for Monica at the Open now - after all, Davenport was down 2-5 against Kimiko Date in the third set in the semi-final on Saturday, and Kimiko is no Charlie Bronson.

But, just to be a nark, I must observe that it was 23 minutes before a volley was committed in this match, and precious few after that. Lindsay has one of the biggest serves in women's tennis - and she served her way out of a lot of ambushes yesterday - but she still can't follow it in.

Think how a superior serve-and-volley player could frighten Monica right now. There is no Steffi at the Open, but nor is there a Martina Navratilova. Just a lot of people on Boot Hill with the same epitaph: "I shot Monica Seles - and died."
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Re: 1996

Many happy returns to mighty Monica
By GERARD WRIGHT
January 15, 1996
Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney had seen the bubbly, giggly, mispronouncing ("Dobsons Bay") tennis superstar here, there and everywhere for 11 days.

Yesterday, on the centre court at White City, it saw the fierce competitor.

Monica Seles stared down a match point, ignored a heavily strapped right thigh and resisted fellow American Lindsay Davenport - who said later that she had played one of her best matches - to win the final of the Peter's International in three sets.

It was only Seles's third tournament since her 27-month absence after being stabbed in the back by a fanatical Steffi Graf fan during a match in Hamburg in April 1993.

Seles, the world's joint number one player with Graf, preserved her unbeaten record in Australia with the win over Davenport, ranked 12.

It was her first appearance here since 1993, when she won her third consecutive Australian Open, and she showed in this match what women's tennis and fans had been missing while she was away.

No Davenport drive was so far out of reach that it could not be retrieved, no angle so acute that it could not be attempted.

And no situation was so desperate that victory was ever out of the question, even when Davenport served for the match in the second set, and then held a match point during the tiebreak. Seles eventually triumphed 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-3.

"That's why she's Monica Seles and doesn't lose very often," Davenport said.

Even Seles, usually her own harshest critic, was moved to a rare superlative. "We played some great points out there. I played some great tennis."

The result is being described as the most memorable women's match in 15 years at the aging Paddington tennis centre, and possibly the finest of Seles's interrupted career.
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Re: 1996

A day off, but injured Seles says she's ready
ASHLEY BROWNE
January 15, 1996
The Age

Monica Seles last night returned to Melbourne for the first time since she departed three years as the queen of Flinders Park. Her right leg was heavily strapped, but it would take more than a muscle strain to keep her from defending her unblemished Australian Open record.

Seles maintained her perfect Australian record yesterday by defeating Lindsay Davenport in a three-set thriller in the final of the Peters International at White City, but emerged with an ill-timed thigh injury on the eve of the Ford Australian Open.

She immediately hosed down suggestions that the injury would keep her out of the open, and was just as quickly granted a day's grace by tournament director Paul McNamee.

''Hopefully it will be fine," said Seles, although she was pleased to learn that her request for a 24-hour delay before playing her first match in Melbourne had been granted.

McNamee confirmed yesterday that tournament policy allowed for those who contest a Sunday final interstate be allowed to play their first match on a Tuesday, even if, as is the case with Seles, the rest of her half of the draw are starting today.

''She asked for it and she got it," McNamee said of Seles, who left for Melbourne within an hour of her defeat of Davenport.

But when asked whether a further delay until Wednesday was permitted for Seles, McNamee was less charitable. ''No way," was the unequivocal reply.

Seles sustained the injury during the sixth or seventh game of the second set and required a five-minute injury break to have the leg strapped. ''I immediately iced it, I'll do some stretching and do some therapy on it," said Seles, who has been dogged by injury during the past four months.

Because of tendinitis in a knee and a strained foot, this was her first tournament since the US Open in September. She said: ''I feel really good that's the only thing bugging me (the thigh injury) at the moment but I'll have treatment."

The two-and-a-quarter hour classic against Davenport, which Seles won 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 was her longest match since returning to tennis in August after a 28-month lay-off. In all, Seles has played three tournaments since being stabbed by an obsessed fan of Steffi Graf, with wins in the Peters International, the Canadian Open and a second to Graf in the US Open.

But the 22-year-old American had a match point against her in the second set tiebreak. At that stage, even Seles thought her goose might have been cooked. But at the same time, she wanted to maintain her perfect record in Australia.

''Once or twice, I said to myself: 'You've got to keep this thing going', " Seles said. And she did, ripping a gutsy forehand drive past a bemused Davenport to save the match point. Said the vanquished afterwards: ''That's why she's Monica Seles and doesn't lose all that much."

Davenport went into the match worried that she would fail to win a game. She ended it by being lauded by Seles as a potential No. 1. ''She plays a style of tennis to beat me, " Seles said. ''She can become No. 1."

Seles admitted to an interrupted preparation for the final and alluded to some off-court problems without elaborating.

''It wasn't the greatest morning. I should have left a few things off the court. I was getting so mad at myself out there and was talking to myself a lot."

Mark Philippoussis was also a beneficiary of some good fortune on the eve of the Open, when 13th seed Marc Rosset withdrew from the Open because of the hand injury he suffered when he belted some courtside signage at the Hopman Cup nine days ago.

Rosset was the 13th seed, but the seeding he vacated goes to Austria's Gilbert Schaller, the top-ranked player in the draw not to have been originally seeded. Schaller now moves to Rosset's part of the draw and away from Philippoussis who he would likely have met with in the second round.

Philippoussis will play the first match on centre court this morning against the German qualifier, Nicolas Kiefer, regarded as a far better player than his 169 ranking would suggest, and whom some are predicting will be in the top 30 by year's end thus blazing a similar trail to that of Philippoussis in 1995.

Kiefer, 18, won the Australian and United States junior titles last year and still manages to combine his studies with his tennis. In Adelaide a fortnight ago, he thrashed Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman in the first round before losing to Martin Damm in the second.

The Philippoussis camp went underground last night, as the momentum grew for what will be an imposing homecoming. After several disappointing performances in Australia this summer, the 19-year-old from Williamstown will face an expectant home crowd, who have lapped up the hype and who believe that upon Philippoussis' broad shoulders rests the future of Australian tennis. Several potentially lucrative sponsors are believed to be ready to climb on board if he lasts until the third round, where world No. 1 Pete Sampras is expected to be waiting for a repeat of their Flushing Meadow showdown of last year.

Meanwhile, McNamee also confirmed that the speed of the courts at Flinders Park had been reduced after a resurfacing exercise was undertaken after last year's championship. The new courts are a hybrid of the old Rebound Ace surface which has been in place since the centre opened in 1987, and a new surface created last year.

''The new surface was a little too slow so we asked them to make a hybrid at which the old and new surfaces met about half way. It is slightly coarser than the old surface, so it plays a bit slower, and the paint is darker so that the glare is reduced," he said.

Most players have expressed satisfaction with the new courts, saying they make the balls fluffier and hence easier to hit, and that the rougher surface makes it less likely that they will 'stick' to the court on sweltering days.

LINE-UP FOR SHOW COURTS.

Centre court: play starts 10.45. Nicolas Kiefer (Germany) v Mark Philippoussis (Australia).

Shaun Stafford (US) v 6-Gabriela Sabatini (Argentina).

Gaston Etlis (Argentina) v 2-Andre Agassi (US). Tonight: 7 pm: Martina Hingis (Switzerland) v Jana Nejedly (Canada).

Marcelo Rios (Chile) v Patrick Rafter (Australia). Court one: 10 am. 8-Jim Courier (US) v Johan Van Herck (Belgium).

3-Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (Spain) v Beate Reinstadler (Austria).

Renzo Furlan (Italy) v Scott Draper (Australia).

12-Natasha Zvevera (Belarus) v Anna Smashnova (Israel).

Court two: 10 am. 5-Michael Chang (US) v David Rikl (Czech Republic).

Nathalie Baudone (Italy) v Sabine Appelmans (Belgium).

Fabrice Santoro (France) v 6-Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Russia).

Kristin Godridge (Australia) v Siobhan Drake-Brockman (Australia).

MATCH OF THE DAY.

MARCELO RIOS V PATRICK RAFTER: Head to head 0-0. For the Australian, this is the start of the climb back after injury and loss of form.

But at Kooyong last week, at least he redeemed himself in the eyes of Andre Agassi - his tormentor at last year's Open - with a fighting three-set loss. Chilean Rios, last year's ATP Rookie of the Year, has yet to play at Flinders Park, let alone experience the cauldron that can be centre court when an Australian, particularly one as popular as Rafter, is taking part. With his long hair and general rock-star looks, Rios has attracted a following perhaps not just restricted to tennis purists - the sort Rafter himself attracted last year.
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Re: 1996

EVERT: 'THINGS ARE LOOKING UP' - SELES' RETURN HAS HELPED GIVE WOMEN'S TOUR NEEDED SPARK
Daily News of Los Angeles
January 15, 1996
JOE JARES

Chris Evert is feeling great.

Reason No. 1: She is 14 weeks along in her third pregnancy.

Reason No. 2: The March tournament in Indian Wells that bears her name has a terrific field.

Reason No. 3: The women's pro circuit, on whose board she serves, is in much better shape than a year ago.

Reason No. 4: Monica Seles is back in action, which has a great deal to do with Nos. 2 and 3.

"Things are looking up," Evert said. "I think a year ago it was pretty depressing, or bleak. Without Monica in the game. Steffi (Graf) was injured. Jennifer (Capriati) was out of the game. No sponsor. There was a lot of negative press.

"Now you've got two great things that have happened. Corel is a great sponsor and Monica has come back. You really have to start thinking, 'Things are looking much brighter.' "

Seles, just turned 22, who has never been beaten Down Under, is the favorite to win the Australian Open in Melbourne, which she has already done three times. It is vital to the women's game to have her physically and mentally sharp; her rivalry with Graf might come to match Evert-Martina Navratilova or Billie Jean King-Margaret Court.

Local fans will get to see Seles at Indian Wells for the State Farm Evert Cup, which will run March 8-16 and for the first time coincide with the big men's tournament there, the Newsweek Champions Cup. The Evert Cup doesn't have Graf or Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, but it does have Seles and 15 others from the top 20, including Gabriela Sabatini, Conchita Martinez and Lindsay Davenport.

"I think the addition of Monica Seles will be a huge draw," said Evert, ''because everybody, still at this time, is very curious about Monica. She had a great U.S. Open and we haven't seen much of her - really any of her - since then."

Seles has proved that she has overcome the mental anguish caused by being stabbed in the back by a maniac in Germany on April 30, 1993. She is proving in Australia that she is over the injuries that plagued her after the U.S. Open last year.

"She is such a perfectionist and such a winner," said Evert, "and she has such pride in her tennis that, I mean, I think the tournaments she plays in she will be nothing less than a hundred percent fit and mentally tough, and therefore she's still going to be one of the two top players in the world.

"Hopefully, it's just going to be a healthy Monica, and if so, you're going to see the re-emergence of a great rivalry between her and Steffi."

Despite her pregnancy, Evert says she plans to be in Indian Wells to see Seles, and the upgraded Evert Cup, in person.

Phenomenal Phebus: My votes for Southern California Athletes of the Year
went to UCLA tennis player Keri Phebus, who won the NCAA singles title in 1995 (and doubles, too, with Susie Starrett), and USC wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, in a narrow call over UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon.

If Phebus gets it - and she is the favorite - she will be the first woman tennis player picked since Maureen Connolly in 1953. "Little Mo" won the United States and Wimbledon championships that year.

Other tennis players who have earned the honor (presented by the Amateur Athletic Foundation of L.A., formerly the Helms Athletic Foundation): Pete Sampras, 1990; Jack Kramer, 1946; Glendale's Ted Schroeder, 1942; Alice Marble, 1940; Ellsworth Vines, 1932; Mary K. Browne, 1914, and May Sutton, 1905.

Can anybody around here beat Phebus? The UCLA senior is the top returning player in the country, but USC has a promising 20-year-old freshman from Spain, Eva Jimenez, who coach Richard Gallien says is "very, very good - much better than I had hoped."

In the 16s-and-under, Jimenez was the top junior in Europe, and in 1993 she was a semifinalist at the Orange Bowl tournament.

She is a good student, too, but perhaps not on the level of freshman teammate Karolina Baklarova of the Czech Republic, who has a 4.0 grade-point
average, including the highest grade in her chemistry class.

Look out for Pepperdine: As the men's college season started over the weekend, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll had Stanford first, UCLA second, Pepperdine seventh and USC eighth. Fresno State, Cal and Arizona also made the top 25.

Ex-UCLA coach Glenn Bassett has succeeded Allen Fox in Malibu and has seven lettermen back, plus Justin Bower, who was an excellent junior in South Africa. Because of the U.S. government shutdown, Bower and teammate/countryman Ross Duncan didn't arrive at school for the spring term until Thursday.

It will be interesting to see how Bassett's team does against the school for which he played and coached. Their first meeting is Feb. 6 at Westwood.

The Pepperdine women, ranked No. 15, begin their season Friday at home against Pacific.

From baseline to net: Austrian Thomas Muster, on playing in Doha, Qatar: ''It's a little strange for me. I'm used to playing with sand on the court and concrete all around outside the stadium and in the city. Here I'm playing on concrete and the sand is all outside the stadium and around the city." . . . It was writer/broadcaster Bud Collins who nicknamed Ilie Nastase "The Bucharest Buffoon." Now ex-court clown Nastase has entered politics and we might have to refer to him soon as the Bucharest mayor. "He's like Napoleon," said countryman Adrian Voinea of the Davis Cup captain. "He has a lot of fantasies. But I think Romania needs fantasies now." . . .

The "Woodies," Aussies Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, won at Adelaide, Australia, and became the seventh doubles team to win 30 or more titles in the Open Era. The leaders: Peter Fleming-John McEnroe and Bob Hewitt-Frew McMillan, each with 57. . . .

The USC women play Stanford at home April 6. That's at noon, following a 10:30 reception honoring Dave Borelli, who won seven national championships between 1977 and 1985 as Trojans women's coach. He's now a teaching pro in Fresno. . . po. USC freshman Cecil Mamiit, from Eagle Rock, was undefeated in the fall season. . . . Jonathan Leach and USC men's coach Dick Leach won their fifth straight National Father and Son Hardcourt title in La Jolla. . . .

L.A.'s Infiniti Open at UCLA won the ATP Tour award for best charity program. The Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells was one of the winners for best tournament operations. . . . In April, Westlake Tennis & Swim Club families will be playing host to French juniors for two weeks. In the fall, families in the French Alps will reciprocate.
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Re: 1996

Capriati, Williams Thrust Into Spotlight
ROBIN FINN
The New York Times
March 10, 1996

Women's tennis, often criticized for its lack of intriguing early-round encounters, served up the ultimate in marquee razzle-dazzle today in the State Farm Evert Cup.

Top-ranked Steffi Graf, after being sidetracked by another bout with foot surgery, made her 1996 debut successfully. Venus Williams, the phenom whose time has not quite arrived, made her 1996 debut unsuccessfully. And tennis's prodigal daughter, Jennifer Capriati, currently engaged in yet another comeback from two years of self-instigated exile, pounded a fellow 19-year-old into a progressively unconditional surrender.

If Capriati heard the gossipy whispers and more welcoming cheers that accompanied her as she strolled onto an American court for the first time in 16 months, she didn't acknowledge them. In keeping with her new take on tennis, along with everything and everyone within its orbit, she wore a neutral expression from start to finish in her 6-4, 6-1 defeat of 50th-ranked Rita Grande of Italy.

Grande was not overly impressed by this year's version of Capriati: despite the desert haze, she said she spied some inconsistency in the Capriati serve and backhand "that weren't there before."

The shaky opening set featured seven consecutive service breaks. "I was able to return it better than serve it," Capriati said. "I definitely got into my groove in the second set."

Capriati said the one thing she trusts in her game is her strokes: "You don't lose your skill or your strokes, but it gets to be a different perspective when you take a lot of time off," she said of a hiatus that began after a first-round loss at the 1993 United States Open. "But you become more aware of the different aspects of the game."

Told by one male reporter that her lipstick and glazed hair lend an air of sophistication she didn't seem to have in the old days, she did a double take. "I guess I'm not a baby anymore," replied Capriati, who came here coachless and sponsorless with an entourage of two -- her mother, Denise, and boyfriend, Ryan.

Graf was treated with the utmost respect by No. 399th Kristina Triska, who let the German dictate at her usual March Hare pace: the 16-year-old Swede succumbed, 6-0, 6-1, in just 36 minutes.

"I wish I had been forced a little bit more," Graf said.

But Williams, appearing in her first event for 1996 and just the sixth event of what has been predicted to be a stellar career, received no star treatment from Julie Halard-Decugis. The 15-year-old Williams, whose modest ranking of 216th is far from commensurate with her advance billing, was undone by a plethora of rookie mistakes and lost, 6-2, 6-4.

Even so, it was the loser who trudged off to be quizzed about herself, and the great expectations that surround her, on international television. The winner, the 10th-seeded Halard, was left to alone to bathe, quite literally, in her relative anonymity. While Williams, who owned a six-figure contract with Reebok before she'd even played six matches, was being wired for television, the 25-year-old Halard was back in her hotel room taking a celebratory bath.

"For sure, before I was 17 I had no attention," said Halard, who has already won two titles this year. "And even now, I have nothing of the attention or pressure that probably she has.

"She has a long way to go, but it's better to go slowly on this tour: she needs to have some pleasures of life."

Williams, who will play just six events this year, agreed that there's no hurry to expand her workload even though she realizes that flaws like the 10 double faults and 41 unforced errors she made today will only be siphoned away by match experience. Williams survived another new experience, the qualifying competition here, to earn her date with Halard.

"If I worried too much about pressure, about winning matches, I wouldn't get better; it would be an impediment, but I know in the future, I'll be there," said Williams, who seems equally self-composed whether she wins or loses. For now, at least.

-------------------- Ivanisevic in Another Final

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, March 9 (AP) -- Goran Ivanisevic defeated Guillaume Raoux, 6-4, 6-4, in the ABN AMRO event today to reach his sixth final of the year. In the title match, he will face Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who scored a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory over Tim Henman. Henman made the semifinals via a walkover when top-seeded Pete Sampras withdrew Friday with an injury to his right foot.
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Re: 1996

On the Comeback Trail at 19, Capriati Returns to the Dominating Style of Her Youth
ROBIN FINN
The New York Times
March 11, 1996

She was all anticipation and annihilation during her match, and, for the first time in too many years, all smiles and serenity afterward.

Jennifer Capriati, combining a madcap pace with an intuitive aim for the sidelines, put her own official stamp of approval on her tennis comeback with a 6-0, 6-0 demolition of Taipei's Shi-Ting Wang this afternoon at the State Farm Evert Cup.

I'm an athlete and I never want to lose it," Capriati said of a gift she reneged on at 16 but has rekindled at 19 with a more mature perspective and passion. "I always knew it was still inside me somewhere."

Quavery in her first-round match, today Capriati seemed to recreate her former self, the assured competitor who wielded an uncanny ability to mount a full-fledged attack without even leaving the baseline. Her opponent, humbled by a barrage of topspin, was surely afraid to even approach the baseline.

After bumbling through eight double faults in her opener, Capriati committed just three today, and the intensity of her returns, lethal off either side, rendered Wang thoroughly defenseless.

"I'm just taking it moment by moment," said Capriati, who recalled winning an Olympic gold medal by playing precisely that way. "That would be something, now that I've come back," she said of the prospect of being an Olympian again someday.

Her performance here was a throwback that conjured up a younger, happier version of herself.

"It just feels great to be playing well," said Capriati, who believes her eight months of training for this "valid" comeback have made her fitter than ever.

Capriati never wavered from the task at hand. Exhibiting a behavior that's rote to champions, she took particular care not to show her floundering opponent any glimmer of hope. Perhaps last weekend's Florida practice session with Steffi Graf, who has played a significant role in Capriati's tennis rehabilitation, reacquainted the 19-year-old with her killer instinct.

"I just tried to close it out, and the way to do that is to win every point," said the unranked Capriati, who won 58 points, twice as many as her victim.

It was, in every way, a performance that came off without a hitch, and Capriati, who next faces the fifth-seeded Chanda Rubin, was properly energized by it.

But nobody else on the day's slate had a breezy 43 minute outing like hers.

Overheated and overworked, Mary Joe Fernandez, the defending champion, survived rotisserie-strength noontime heat in her second-round match against 78th-ranked Anna Smashnova.

The 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 victory by Fernandez required a frying time of 1 hour 55 minutes with the stadium thermometer set at 117 degrees. The conditions, which sent one heat-prostrated player to the hospital on Friday, were dangerous enough to require a 15-minute timeout between the second and third sets if either player requested it. Fernandez was grateful for the option.

"The heat really got to me; I got a little dizzy and a little nauseous," said Fernandez, who felt she played "good tennis" in the opening set but that she was almost unable to function during the second. "All of a sudden everything left, it was gone," she said.

The air-conditioned hiatus was restorative to the eighth-seeded Fernandez for two reasons: it curtailed her challenger's momentum and gave her a chance to compose herself for one last set.

"I tried to take the initiative right away because I knew I wasn't going to be able to last," she said.

Like Fernandez, fourth-seeded Kimiko Date needed three queasy sets to advance. Date defeated Ruxandra Dragomir by 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-2. And the second-ranked Conchita Martinez, distracted by blisters, lost her second-set focus but, revived by a fresh pair of socks and courtside treatment, advanced, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, against Florencia Labat.

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

Muster Is No. 1 Again

MEXICO CITY, March 10 (AP) -- Thomas Muster reclaimed the No. 1 ranking from Pete Sampras today by defeating Jiri Novak, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, to win the Mexican Open for the fourth time.

Muster, who on Feb. 12 became the 13th player to hold the No. 1 spot in the 23-year history of the rankings, was passed by Sampras after one week at No. 1.

Sampras won the Sybase Open in San Jose, Calif., on Feb. 18 to recapture the top spot, but Muster's victory, coupled with Sampras's withdrawal from the quarterfinals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, because of a sprained right foot, catapulted Muster back to No. 1 by 19 points on the ATP Tour computer.

Muster is the first player since John McEnroe to win an event four consecutive years. McEnroe won in Philadelphia 1982-85.
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Re: 1996

Gavaldon falls in the heat of the day - Halard-Decugis rates as possible spoiler in Evert Cup matches
The San Diego Union-Tribune
March 11, 1996
JERRY MAGEE, Staff Writer

It took the current winningest player in women's tennis three sets and one whirlwind finish yesterday to get past Angelica Gavaldon in the State Farm Evert Cup.

Steffi Graf? Monica Seles? Conchita Martinez? Nah, none of those.

The winningest player of the moment is Julie Halard-Decugis of France, 20-3 for the season following her second-round 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 conquest of Gavaldon, of Coronado, Mexico City and Key Biscayne, Fla.

Gavaldon, training in Florida, has lot of addresses. She's had lots of problems with her game, too, her ranking having dropped like a stone from No. 36 at the conclusion of 1995 to No. 80.

Yesterday, though, she appeared bound for a breakthrough when she rallied behind some deft lobs to assume a 3-0, third-set lead over Halard-Decugis.

Then her concentration failed her and the French woman, seeded No. 10, came on to mark herself as a threat to Graf and anybody else in this $550,000 event at Hyatt Grand Champions. Halard-Decugis swept the final three games with the loss of only one point.

"I don't think it was her playing better; it was definitely me," said Gavaldon. "I probably started thinking too much. You just have to hit the ball, not think."

Anybody thinking yesterday would have been advised to think cool. It was warm out there, with the temperature on the stadium court measured at 120 degrees. In these "extreme weather conditions," defending champion Mary Joe Fernandez asked for and was granted a 10-minute break following the second set of her match against Anna Smashnova of Israel.

Fernandez said she was experiencing dizziness and nausea. "For a time, I was gone," she admitted. But the break revived her and she beat Smashnova 6-0, 2-6, 6-1.

Some other favorites also struggled. Kimiko Date of Japan (No. 4) labored to a 6-7 (7-5), 6-1, 6-2 victory over Ruxan Dragomir of Romania, and Conchita Martinez (No. 2) had to sweat a bit before dismissing Florencia Labat of Argentina 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

One contestant who breezed was Jennifer Capriati, who did a 6-0, 6-0 number of Shi-Ting Wang of China in 43 minutes.

Halard-Decugis clearly is somebody to watch here. Since she was married in September to Arnaud Decugis, her coach, she's been moving strongly through the rankings -- from No. 51 after '95 to No. 18.

Her next opponent: Graf. She's 0-7 against the German champion, but this time she would seem to be catching her at a propitious moment. Graf has played only one match since last November, that here Saturday against Kristina Triska, a 16-year-old from France ranked No. 399.

Against Gavaldon, Halard-Decugis was cruising after a first set in which she took six straight games.

"I knew I was playing terrible," she said. "I wasn't getting more than two balls in court. I told myself all I needed to do was start playing my game. I said vamos -- come on."

Come on, she did. Halard-Decugis was running Gavaldon, but it was the French woman who appeared to be the more spent in the third set -- until Gavaldon permitted a 4-3 advantage to escape her.
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Re: 1996

Heat is on, so are Fernandez and Martinez - Davenport and Capriati win.
Halard-Decugis advances to face top-ranked Graf.

The Press-Enterprise
Riverside, CA
March 11, 1996
Jim Short

INDIAN WELLS -- Sunday was a day for wobbly winners at the Evert Cup.

Conchita Martinez wobbled because of her feet. Mary Joe Fernandez wobbled because of the heat.

Both required brief delays after their second sets. And both won their second-round matches at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, where the temperature on stadium court reached 117 degrees.

Martinez, who was treated for blisters, rebounded from a poor second set to beat Florencia Labat of Argentina, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2. And Fernandez, who availed herself of the 10-minute break the WTA allows for extreme weather conditions, prevailed over Anna Smashnova of Israel, 6-0, 2-6, 6-1.

Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati and Julie Halard-Decugis also advanced, among others, but managed to avoid any medical maladies in the process.

Capriati had the easiest time of anyone. She breezed to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Shi-Ting Wang of Tapei in a 43-minute match played after the heat had abated in the 11,500-seat stadium, and next faces No. 5 seed Chanda Rubin.

Davenport, of Murrieta, the last person to begin play in the tournament, moved into the third round with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Mariaan DeSwardt. And Halard-Decugis, the winner of two titles already this year, struggled to a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 win over Angelica Gavaldon of Coronado to set up a third-round match against top-ranked Steffi Graf.

That match between Graf and Halard-Decugis will be the first one on stadium court today.

If there is a theme thus far to the Evert Cup, which from today on will be played in conjunction with the men's Champions Cup, it is the heat.

It was sweltering on court on Friday, when Joanette Kruger of South Africa collapsed with heat stroke during her first-round match and, after a comfortable day on Saturday, the temperature went up again.

Fernandez, the defending champion, said she availed herself of the allowable break after becoming concerned during the second set.

"The heat really got to me," said Fernandez, the eighth seed this year. "I started feeling it at the end of the first set.

"Things were going well and all of a sudden everything was different. I started getting dizzy and nauseous. For a few games there, I was just gone."

Fernandez said that during the break she was able to rest and replenish her body chemicals.

Then, she said, "in the third set, I tried to take control right away. I knew I wasn't going to be able to last (for a long set), so the first ball I had I tried to take advantage of it.

"It helped me to get a (service) break to start the third set and get ahead. You always feel better when you're up than when you're behind."

The irony of the situation is that Fernandez lives and trains in Miami, where heat and humidity are frequent problems.

"It doesn't matter how used to it you are," she said. "When it's that hot, I don't care how good of shape you're in, it's hard to play."

Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon champion who's ranked No. 2 in the world, wasn't affected by the heat in the same way as Fernandez.

Martinez's problem were the blisters that were forming because "it was so hot and my feet were sweaty and my socks were getting wrinkled."

So after the second set, in which she played poorly, Martinez changed her socks and the WTA trainer sprayed "some duller" on her feet to mask any discomfort.

She said the blisters had nothing to do with the sudden change in her form, from an excellent first set to the bad second. She simply started missing the shots she'd been making.

"I was leading, 2-0, and suddenly I started missing a little. Then suddenly it was 3-2 her favor and I started getting upset and missing more balls, and it was impossible to get back (in a rhythm).

"I'd love it not to happen again. If it does, I might not get it back at all."
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Re: 1996

Surviving Players Feeling Heat, but It's Not From Opponents
Tennis: Fernandez, Capriati and Martinez have more trouble with 120-degree temperatures.

March 11, 1996
JULIE CART
Los Angeles Times

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — A blast of hot air and inhospitable conditions greeted defending champion Mary Joe Fernandez upon her return to the State Farm Evert Cup on Sunday, causing momentary discomfort but no lasting damage.

Fernandez started well, faltered, then recovered to outlast Anna Smashnova, 6-0, 2-6, 6-1, in a second round match that took 1 hour and 55 minutes on another hot day at the Hyatt Grand Champions. Fernandez called for a 10-minute "extreme weather conditions" timeout between the second and third sets, when the court temperature was measured at 120 degrees.

After the match, someone made mention of it being a "dry heat" but Fernandez only laughed.

"When it's that hot, I don't care about humidity or dryness," Fernandez said, "I don't care how good of shape you are in, it's still hard."

Others thought so too. Second-seeded Conchita Martinez had less trouble with Florencia Labat, whom she defeated, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, than she had with the heat. Martinez' feet were sweating so badly that blisters developed.

When she asked for a few moments to change her socks, or a three-minute injury time out, the chair umpire offered to invoke the 10-minute weather rule. Martinez happily agreed.

Unfazed by the elements was Jennifer Capriati, whose clobbering of Shi-Ting Wang, 6-0, 6-0, evoked images of yesteryear. Capriati swung away, hit the lines and found the angles. Her serve improved and, where she had hesitated closing out her first-round match, Capriati pounced on her multiple opportunities. She converted six of eight break points during the 43-minute match.

"I started off better today," Capriati said. "It's been an exhausting day, waiting around [to play] in the heat. Maybe that calmed my nerves."

Still skittish with media, Capriati was more comfortable than she had been after her first round match. But it's clear that at 19, she's never going to return to being the chipper teen that so many wish her to be. As she pointed out, "I'm not a baby anymore."

Playing in only her second tournament in 16 months, Capriati will be fully tested by her next opponent--a third-round match with Chanda Rubin.

Martinez, ranked No. 2, made her first appearance here, without the fanfare that attends Steffi Graf or Capriati. By now--with a career that has a curious obscurity considering her ranking--the former Wimbledon champion is accustomed to being overlooked.

Asked if it bothers her that the top-seeded Graf is already seen as the de facto winner of the tournament, Martinez shrugged.

"People are going to talk, you've got to understand that," she said. "Steffi, she has such a record, there is a lot to talk about."

Martinez looked fit and in control during most of the match, but again displayed her trademark lapse of concentration, which cost her the second set.

"It was 2-0, then suddenly it was 3-2 for her," Martinez said. "It was impossible to go back. I don't know if it was concentration or not."

Martinez recovered well enough to convincingly close out the match.
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