Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 3
EDBERG GOES OUT IN EMOTIONAL STYLE
The Stuart News
May 18, 1996
ROME -- Stefan Edberg bowed and waved to all corners of the Foro Italico stadium. The 10,200 spectators stood for several minutes in a rousing ovation. Tears streamed down the faces of many fans.
Edberg, playing his 14th and final year on the tour, received an emotional farewell after losing 6-3, 6-3 to Richard Krajicek in the Italian Open quarterfinals Friday.
"In a foreign country. To have an ovation like that was quite amazing," Edberg said. "I expected a nice round of applause, but this was really special."
Even during the match, the crowd repeatedly broke into rhythmic clapping and chants of "Stefan! Stefan!"
"Sometimes I had goosebumps out there," said Edberg, playing for only the third time in Rome. "It was great leaving the court. Even if I lost the match, it didn't matter today."
Krajicek said he felt lonely on the center court.
"My girlfriend and another friend were supporting me," the Dutchman said. "It was like three against 12,000."
In a night match, top-seeded defending champion Thomas Muster powered into the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 7 Marcelo Rios of Chile. Muster needed just over an hour to defeat a player considered one of the rising stars in tennis.
In other quarterfinal matches, sixth-seeded Wayne Ferreira beat No. 14 Andrei Medvedev, 6-4, 6-4, and No. 11 Alberto Costa crushed Italy's Andrea Gaudenzi, 6-2, 6-1.
The Edberg-Krajicek match featured the unusual sight of two men playing classic serve-and-volley tennis on clay. It also included the second-fastest serve ever recorded on the ATP Tour.
In the eighth game of the second set, Krajicek cracked a first serve timed at 136.4 mph -- just a shade below the 137 mph delivery by Britain's Greg Rusedski at San Jose last year. But Krajicek's serve was the fastest of 1996, topping the 134.9 mph by Rusedski at the Australian Open.
Edberg managed to get the serve back in play, but lost the point. After seeing the speed displayed on the courtside monitor, Edberg flexed his bicep to the fans.
"I didn't even look (at the speed clock) because I didn't think it was that fast," Krajicek said. "I won the point. That's the most important thing. It would be terrible to hit a serve like that and lose the point."
But Krajicek had more than a big serve going this day. He played one his best matches on clay, ripping groundstrokes and passing shots that kept Edberg in check.
Krajicek also showed poise in dealing with the pro-Edberg crowd. The fans hooted and shouted "scemo" -- idiot -- when Krajicek argued a line call in the first game of the second set and received a time violation warning.
The outpouring of support for Edberg contrasted with the way the crowd turned against Gaudenzi, who was trying to become the first Italian to reach the semifinals in 18 years. Gaudenzi was jeered in his lackluster performance against Costa.
"That's the Roman crowd," he said. "When you win, you're a legend. But when you lose, they are there to whistle."
Graf wins; Huber, Vicario upset
BERLIN -- Top-seeded Steffi Graf advanced to the semifinals of the German Open on Friday, but second-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and No. 5 Anke Huber were upset.
Sanchez Vicario lost to Elena Likhovtseva of Russia 6-3, 2-6, 6-0, while Huber was ousted by Karina Habsudova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-4. Graf beat 10th-seeded Nathalie Tauziat of France 6-1, 7-5.
Graf's next opponent will be fourth-seeded Iva Majoli of Croatia, who advanced with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over No. 7 Barbara Paulus of Austria.
Sanchez Vicario, the defending champion, had no excuses after losing to Likhovtseva, ranked 47th in the world.
"She was just better than me today," said Sanchez Vicario, who struggled throughout the tournament.
Huber made a lot of unforced errors from the baseline and was sometimes overpowered by Habsudova's punishing backhand.
"I felt hopeless out there," said Huber, an Australian Open finalist this year. "I had to do something else, but I just couldn't. I made it easy for her."
It was Habsudova's third upset victory in the tournament. Earlier, she beat Martina Hingis and Mary Pierce.
"Once you beat these players, you know you can do it. It's nothing new for me now," said Habsudova, ranked 54th in the world.
Graf won her first set in 19 minutes, slamming winners all over the court.
"It was good, but it wasn't perfect -- my first serve wasn't as good as I liked," Graf said.
Graf let two match points slip away at 5-4 in the second set, one a volley that bounced back from the net. She finally converted her fourth match point to win in one hour and 10 minutes.
Graf has regained top form after losing to Hingis in the quarterfinals last week in Rome.
"The tennis I'm playing is a world apart from the tennis I showed in Rome," she said.
Seles sets return for Madrid
MADRID, Spain -- Monica Seles will return to competitive tennis next week in the Madrid Open, and she has asked for wild-card entry to the Eastbourne tournament in England next month.
The Madrid tournament will mark Seles' first competition since February, when she lost to Iva Majoli in the quarterfinals of the Pan Pacific tournament in Tokyo.
A month earlier, Seles won her ninth grand slam title at the Australian Open.
For the past three months, Seles has been sidelined with a shoulder injury that forced her to withdraw from a Federation Cup match in Austria last month.
She is co-ranked No. 1 with Steffi Graf by the WTA computer.
The $250,000 Madrid Open, to be played May 21-25, will be Seles' final tuneup for the French Open.
The Eastbourne is played on grass, June 18-22, and is the traditional women's warmup for Wimbledon. It would mark her first English competition in four years.
Seles, who won three consecutive French Open titles from 1990 to 1992, has not participated in the Grand Slam event in Paris since she was stabbed during a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, April 30, 1993.
Following the stabbing incident, Seles returned to active play last summer when she won the Canadian Open. In August, she reached the finals of the U.S. Open before losing to Graf.
Graf also is among the 28 entries for the Eastbourne event.