Re: 1988: The Golden Year That Immortalized Steffi Graf
Steffi in Oz
Tennis experts are disputing who was #1 for 1987-was it Graf with 1 slam and an unbelievable 75-2 record, or Martina Navratilova, the person who handed Graf her only 2 defeats as the Czech-American won Wimbledon and the US Open.
Could Martina hang on again in 1988-or would youth be served at last? Australia would be the first test.
Graf had a wretched history Down Under. A first round defeat in 1983, a slightly better third round in 1984, and that was it, as the young German seemed allergic to Kooyong and opted not to enter at all in 1985 and 1987.
1988 will be different. For starters the venue has moved from Kooyong's grass to the hard courts of Flinders Park. Second, the draw for the women has increaded from 64 to 128. Finally, Flinders Park has made history by introducing a retractable roof, making tennis possible in rainy weather.
Below are snippets from Tennis Australia's coverage:
Steffi Shoots For The Slam --by Eloise Moss,pages 22- of Tennis Australia, March 1988 issue.
'Graf's performance over the fortnight was nothing short of awesome. Up to the final, she had lost only 22 games and has dismissed in turn her seeded opponents-Caterina Lindqvist (13), Hana Mandlikova (5) and Claudia Kohde-Kilsch (8) .....
'Mandlikova, who really wasn't playing badly, put her finger on the problem when she said, "If she hits the ball even harder, I don't know what we are going to do."
'It was Graf's third appearance in the Australian Open. In 1983, she retired in the first round with a broken thumb and Navratilova, who won the title that year, took the time to write a note of encouragement to the dissapointed youngster. In 1984, Graf lost to Wendy Turnbull. Now, threee years later, Australians were treated to the sight of a very professional, Fully-Fledged champion.'
Though her matches were a cakewalk and, until the final, never exceeded an hour, the huge forehand, big serve, speed and bustling style were a delight to anyone watching her for the first time. Graf was always up and ready before "time" was called, and Thompson (first set 20 minutes) and Lindqvist (16 minutes) both expressed the wish that Steffi had let clock tick over to make the match seem a little longer. "She
s slowed down," commented Mandlikova. "When she first came, she was even faster; we had to slow her down." Just imagine if Grad had been playing in the days before the 90 second break at the change of ends was introduced!'
[Graf runs through seeds Mandlikova (50 minutes) and Kohde-Kilisch (45 minutes) like a knife through hot butter. Her finals foe is a surprise-as Chris Evert upset Martina Navratilova to reach her 34th slam final]
'The match began under threatening skies and with the first drops of rain falling. Both players indicated their willingness to continue and Graf began in the strongest way possible-with an ace. But by the time the rain began in earnest, and play was supended with the score 2-1 in Graf's favor, Evert had given every sign that she had carried her fine semi-final form into the final.'
'Referee Peter Bellenger ordered the immediate closure of the roof'......[not soon enough however. It took 89 minutes for play to resume as ball boys and ball girls dried the court with towels]
'Now it was a different ball game. What had begun as an outdoor tournament had become and indoor one-a first in Grand Slam history.'
'It was clear that Evert had been affected by the change. She began with a double-fault and served another two points later.'
[Chris was down for the count at 1-6 1-5. She held on to make it 2-5]
'It certainly looked as though Graf was going to deal out one of the most mortifying defeats of her [Evert's] career when she took the balls to serve for the match at 5-2.
Surprisingly, she faltered, and at the same time Evert began to find the form that had deserted her since the break. She took Graf's serve, held her won and broke again to level at 5-5. Now it was Graf's turn to trail 5-6, but she held on to take the set to the tiebreak and lifted her game once more to takie it 7 points to 3.'
...'Evert thinks it is unlikely that Graf will complete the Grand Slam in 1988. "I think Steffi is #1," she said, "but I would be surprised if she won all four because all of us are still playing very well and ready to challenge."
...'As the opposition search for a clue to the Graf mystery, depend on it, the self-contained blonde from Bruehl will not be standing still. She has a highly professional attitude. Remember her preparation for this Open? She arrived two weeks before the tournament, to become acclimatized to the weather and the new stadium. She'll be putting in the hours to improve her already fabulous game. A Grand Slam this year looks well within her capabilities.'
'It looks like being an intereting year at the top of women's tennis. In the meantime, the Australian Open has a youthful women's champion as fresh and classy as the new stadium she graced.'
Graf's Australian run
1R: d. Amy Jonsson 6-3 6-1
2R: d. Janine Thompson 6-0 6-1
3R: d. Cammy MacGregor 6-1 6-2
4R: d. Carerina Lindqvist  6-0 7-5
QF: d. Hana Mandlikova  6-2 6-2
SF: d. Claudia Kohde-Kilsch  6-2 6-3
FI: d. Chris Evert  6-1 7-6 (7-3) *
*The first final in grand slam history to be contested under a roof.
Last edited by Rollo; Oct 9th, 2018 at 03:57 AM.