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Discussion Starter #21
Rosset and Hingis sound like the perfect partnership...

Women to star in revamped classic
GERARD WRIGHT
January 8, 1996
The Age

Sydney.

Think about it. Do you really want to see Richard Krajicek and Greg Rusedski take turns breaking the sound barrier?

These two (maximum service speed 220 km/h and 215 km/h respectively) among the three fastest servers in men's tennis meet in the first round of the Peters International (formerly the New South Wales Open), starting today, and even in a tennis-starved city that has not seen the likes of this sort of company for 12 months, it will seem like more of the same.

Throw in Goran Ivanisevic (219km/h), Australia's Mark Philippoussis (estimated 200-plus km/h) and the winged Marc Rosset (215 km/h) and what you have is target practice, not a tennis tournament.

For the first time since Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova jostled for position on the White City clubhouse honor board in the early 1980s, and certainly since the men's and women's tournaments came together at the then NSW Open in 1988, the women's side appears to offer not only stronger, but more watchable competition.

The fact that No. 1 seed is Monica Seles is only part of the reason for this observation. Women's tennis now has real depth as indicated by a selection of first-round matches: eighth seed Naoko Sawamatsu, an Australian Open quarter- finalist last year, playing teenage prodigy Martina Hingis, and rising young sixth seed Chanda Rubin against fellow American Lori McNeil.

Thank Seles, both pre-wounding and post-comeback for this.

''She just makes you raise the level of your game," fellow American and third seed Mary Jo Fernandez said yesterday. ''She made Graf improve."

She makes the bottom line look better as well. Ticket sales are up on last year's, while corporate boxes are sold out, according to tournament director Barry Masters.

Seles has a first-round bye. Her first competitive appearance in Australia in three years will be on Wednesday, against either a qualifier or 54th-ranked Belgian, Dominique Monami.

The International is Seles' third tournament since her comeback from a 27-month layoff after she was stabbed during a match in Germany in 1993. Her No. 1 ranking is protected for three more tournaments.

There are no such allowances for an easy passage through the first round in the men's draw, although one space may yet open in the top half, with a question mark against the fitness of fourth seed Rosset.

Rosset, ranked 15th in the world, received a suspected broken bone in his right hand after slamming his clenched fist into the wall of a sponsor's box during the final of the Hopman Cup in Perth on Saturday night.

Rosset and his Swiss mixed doubles partner, Hingis, held three match points against the Croatian team of Goran Ivanisevic and Iva Majoli before the incident. The match continued for two more points before Rosset conceded.

The blow appeared to hurt Hingis, desperate for a tournament win of any sort to crown her early rise in women's tennis, at least as much as Rosset.

After surprising Ivanisevic with the ease with which she returned his heaviest serves during the mixed doubles, the 15-year-old remained composed during her news conference, but then broke down just before a separate interview with a German journalist.

The Hingis of January 1995 so impressed her peers that they came out of the dressing room and sat on the centre-court grass to view her first match. This year's model is bigger, stronger and better to watch.

Rosset was to have further X-rays of his damaged hand in Sydney today after arriving from Perth yesterday. He has until 4 pm to declare his availability.

Other parts of the draw also are incomplete, with Saturday's washout of the qualifying matches forcing the final round of four matches in both the men's and women's sections to be played from 11 am today.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Seles planning desert stop
The Press-Enterprise
Riverside, CA
January 12, 1996
Jim Short

Charlie Pasarell has been wishing on the right stars.

First, the founder and director of the Champions Cup, one of the most prestigious events on the men's ATP Tour, was able to realize a long-time goal and combine that event with the women's Evert Cup, which for the past few years has been played the week before the men's showcase.

Now, it looks as if Pasarell will have Monica Seles to headline the Evert Cup. Seles, who spent 28 months away from tennis after being stabbed in the back in Hamburg, Germany, in April 1993, said in a recent conference call that she plans to launch her U.S. season in the tournament scheduled for March 8-16 at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort in Indian Wells.

It will be her first tournament appearance in Southern California since August 1992, when she lost to Martina Navratilova in the final of the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles (now the Acura Classic) at Manhattan Beach. Seles also won at Indian Wells that year.

Seles, who won the Canadian Open and lost to Steffi Graf in the final of the U.S. Open in her two tournaments last year, is opening her season this week in Sydney, Australia. Then, she said, she'll play the Australian Open and the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo before taking some time off, "and I think I'm going to start back in Palm Springs," followed by the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla., and the Family Circle Cup at Hilton Head, S.C.

"I'll definitely play a lot," said Seles, who plans on representing the U.S. in both the Olympic Games and Federation Cup in addition to playing the four Grand Slam tournaments. She also might play in Los Angeles. "The one thing I'm going to try in here is to put in quite a few tournaments, one after the other, and see how that works, which I haven't done in the past. I'm a little nervous about that.

"A lot of times in the past I would play one week and then have one week off and then play one week and it would never give me enough time to work on anything. So I said,'Let's just try this and see how it goes' . . . If it doesn't work, I'll readjust my schedule."

Here's the pro tennis schedule for Southern California this year. Feb. 9-11, Davis Cup first round, U.S. versus Mexico, La Costa Resort, La Costa; March 8-17, WTA Evert Cup/ATP Champions Cup, Hyatt Grand Champions, Indian Wells; July 29-Aug. 4, ATP Infiniti Open, Los Angeles Tennis Center at UCLA; Aug. 12-18, WTA Acura Classic, Manhattan Country Club, Manhattan Beach; Aug. 19-25, WTA Toshiba Classic, La Costa Resort, La Costa . . . The combined Evert Cup/Champions Cup event actually will get under way March 4 with a $50,000 ATP Challenger tournament . . . Two of the local tournaments captured year-end awards from the ATP - the Champions Cup for tournament operations and the Infiniti Open for its charity program.

It took Petr Korda just one week this year to do what he hadn't done since December 1993. That's win a tournament - the season-opening Qatar Open. Korda had been hampered by groin problems the past two years and was considering retirement before a hernia operation on Oct. 13 cured the problem. Ranked No. 5 in the world in 1992, he had slipped to No. 41 . . . Stefan Edberg, who has announced that this is his final season, said he will ask the promoter of each tournament he plays to make a donation to the Stefan Edberg Foundation, to benefit young Swedish players . . . These foundations are getting to be the in thing. Andre Agassi has set up one to benefit underprivileged youth in the Las Vegas area and Michael Stich and his wife, Jessica, began one to help children who are born HIV-positive in Germany . . . Henrik Holm of Sweden is going to have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and will be out for several months . . . Former Romanian star Ilie Nastase, now captain of his country's Davis Cup team, is running for mayor of Bucharest. That prompted countryman Adrian Voinea to say, "He's like Napoleon. He has a lot of fantasies. But I think Romania needs fantasies now."

Tennis magazine gave its 1995 Player of the Year award to Steffi Graf and its Comeback Player of the Year to Monica Seles. Also honored were Mark Philippoussis and Martina Hingis (rookies of the year) and Patrick McEnroe and Chanda Rubin (most improved). Graf's coach, Heinz Gunthardt, was named coach of the year . . . Sandra Cacic opened the year with the first championship of her career, in the Amway Classic at Auckland, New Zealand, after gaining entry as a qualifier. She is the first qualifier to win a tournament since Radka Bobkova took the Belgian Open May 9, 1993 . . . Murrieta's Lindsay Davenport, who opened the year ranked No. 12, said one of her New Year's resolutions is "to be nicer to both my sisters" . . . The women's tour events in Australia, including the Australian Open, are being played with a new fluorescent green-yellow ball developed by Slazenger. Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee said the balls will be easier to see on television as well as under artificial lights.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Rubin adds shot of youth - 20-year-old leads a new generation of women's stars
The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
March 5, 1996
Plott Brice, STAFF WRITER

Right now, the WTA has it all going in the right direction. The women's tour has had the players and the matches the past few months to keep an edge.

Certainly, the return of Monica Seles and her U.S. Open match with Steffi Graf was a highlight. The Graf-Arantxa Sanchez Vicario three-set thriller at Wimbledon last year was a classic. And now, Jennifer Capriati is back on the tour.

And the emergence of new stars like Chanda Rubin is helping to build a younger fan base for the WTA.

Rubin, a 20-year-old from Lafayette, La., has climbed to No. 10 in the world and has put her name in the record books. She won the longest women's match ever at Wimbledon last year and this year beat Sanchez Vicario in the longest women's match ever at the Australian Open.

She made an impression on the whole sporting world last May when she overcame a 5-0 third-set deficit to upset fifth-ranked Jana Novotna in the French Open.

Tough loss in Australia

"Yeah, I still get a lot of questions about that match," said Rubin, who was in Atlanta last week to shoot some ads for Reebok.

"People are always asking me, `What were you thinking about?' I just wanted to make her hit one more ball."

Rubin thinks it unfortunate that Novotna, who lost a similar match at Wimbledon in 1994, has been labeled as a "choker." Not because it detracts from her win, but out of respect for Novotna.

"She has won a lot of matches. She's the No. 5 player in the world. I think it may have been a case of nerves on a couple of points."

Rubin said being behind and trying to keep a match going is one of the more difficult parts of tennis. But she knows first-hand that it also can be difficult to close out a match.

Rubin was serving for the match, maybe the biggest of her career, with a 5-3 lead on Seles at this year's Australian Open. True to the style of many women players of her generation, she decided to go for it. Hit away. Even on a second serve. She double-faulted at 30-15 and went on to lose the match.

Would she do it differently?

"I'd have to say yes because of the outcome," Rubin said. "But I thought I played a pretty good match and I went for it."

Fierce competition in top 10

Rubin said her goals this year are to keep improving and concentrate on the remaining major events - the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She is also hoping to compete for the United States in the Olympics.

"I think the hardest thing is going to be to stay in the top 10 and move up. That's always a goal. We'll see where I end up. But the Grand Slams are a focus for me this year. . . . I'm going for all of them."

The competition to stay among the elite will be fierce. Seven of the top 10 are 25 or younger. Graf is the oldest at 27, but she's still the clear-cut No. 1. Croatian sensation Iva Majoli is only 19. The next 10 includes the likes of Lindsay Davenport, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and Amanda Coetzer.

Rubin disagrees with critics who say the WTA is dominated by a handful of players.

"I think the only - but important - difference between top 10 players and top 20 players is that the players at the top are maybe a little mentally tougher," she said. "I think last year and the Australian this year show that there are a lot of players out there who could beat a top 10 player at any tournament."

An Olympic venue preview

Rubin, who thinks her chances are good to play in Atlanta for the U.S. Olympic team, will be here March 19 in a team-format exhibition at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center. She'll join Mary Joe Fernandez and John and Patrick McEnroe against an international team of Graf, Schultz-McCarthy, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

"That's going to be a special treat for me," Rubin said. "It's a huge night for me, and I hope for the fans, to be able to play in the new stadium where they play the Olympics. And with this format, with the fans, we will be able to get a little of the spirit of the Olympics that night."

TeamTennis Cup

What: An exhibition with a U.S. team against an international team.

Who: U.S. - John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Chanda Rubin, Mary Joe Fernandez. World - Steffi Graf, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde.

When/where: March 19; Stone Mountain Tennis Center.

Schedule: Matches begin at 6 p.m., with Luke and Murphy Jensen and wheelchair players playing an exhibition.

Tickets: $35, $55 and $75; call 404-222-7665.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Yay, Debbie Graham! Yay, Patty Fendick! Yay Dr. Souhail Toubia and Mill Peninsula Hospital!

BACK FROM THE DEAD
Debbie Graham survived cardiac arrest from a blood clot to return to the tennis tour.

The Press-Enterprise
Riverside, CA
March 7, 1996
Jim Short

INDIAN WELLS -- Debbie Graham lost her Evert Cup qualifying match Wednesday, but so what. Eight months ago she was dead.

A blood clot in her left leg fragmented during her long flight home from Wimbledon in early July, and the fragments blocked off blood vessels to both lungs and cut off about 70 percent of lung function.

She said she passed out in the baggage claim area at San Francisco airport, then had "five or six seizures" and went into cardiac arrest for about 10 seconds in the ambulance that transported her to nearby Mill Peninsula Hospital.

"Any regular person like you or me would have died immediately," said Dr. Souhail Toubia, who was called when Graham was admitted to the hospital, "but she was in excellent shape and an athlete. That was her only salvation."

That, having the good luck to be traveling with Patty Fendick, who had had a similar problem and responded instantly to Graham's distress, and being near a medical facility with the knowledge and equipment necessary to diagnose and treat her.

"I think," she said, "the best part about it was, I never realized how serious it was until I actually got out of the hospital. I didn't even know what happened, really."

Graham stayed in the hospital's intensive care unit for 11 days, while being treated with a blood-thinning medication called Heparin, and slowly began to respond.

Then she went home to Newport Beach and did absolutely nothing for three months except ingest her daily doses of Coumadin, another blood thinner.

"I couldn't do anything," said Graham, 25, a 1991 graduate of Stanford with a degree in political science.

"For about three weeks I was just on a couch, I couldn't do anything. Every little thing tired me. Talking a lot to people was so tiring. For like a month or two months I couldn't even walk up the stairs, I was so weak.

"After about three months, they let me go out and start hitting (tennis balls) and getting exercise. But I was having trouble breathing and sleeping, and they said I was doing too much."

Graham said when she began recovering she expected to be back on the WTA Tour in a couple of weeks. But as the rehabilitation dragged on, doubts began, and she did something drastic.

"I ended up getting a job for two months, working in an office" for promoter John Korf, she said. "I also took a class, to get ready for business school, in case I had to go back.

"I really didn't know if I was going to be able to play again, or if I really had the desire, because I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work.

"It was funny, about the same type all this happened to me, Monica (Seles) was coming back (from a 28-month layoff after being stabbed in the back). I was watching how much fun she was having, and I was thinking, `I miss that, so much.'

"I realized that I had just gone through the hardest thing I'll probably ever have to go through. I knew coming back would be hard, but it couldn't take very much effort compared to that."

Graham finally was able to resume training in November, and she returned to the tour at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in late January.

Although she didn't qualifying for the Evert Cup singles field, she will play doubles with Carolyn Vis. She needs matches, she said. There's no other way to rebuild her career.

She has a different perspective on the game now, however. Death will do that to a person.

"You definitely realize there's more to life than tennis," Graham said. "When I came back (in Japan), Pam Shriver said, `Congratulations. I guess you won the biggest slam of all.'

"I realize that if tennis doesn't work out, I can do other things. Unfortunately, working in an office doesn't pay as much as playing tennis, as I found out. It's not as much fun, either."

NOTES - Steffi Graf of Germany and Conchita Martinez of Spain were seeded first and second for the Evert Cup, which gets under way at 10 a.m. Friday at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort. Graf, the 1994 Evert Cup champion, could meet fifth-seeded Chanda Rubin in the quarterfinals and either third-seeded Anke Huber or seventh-seeded Lindsay Davenport of Murrieta in the semifinals. Martinez's likely opponents are No. 6 seed Brenda Schultz-McCarthy in the quarters and fourth-seeded Kimiko Date in the semis. The top eight seeds have first-round byes . . . In two of the more interesting first-round matches, Jennifer Capriati will face 50th-ranked Rita Grande of Italy and Gigi Fernandez will take on Lori McNeil . . . The final eight spots in the Evert Cup field will be determined in qualifying today, and one of those advancing could be Venus Williams, the 15-year-old who began her career on the public courts in Compton. She made her first match of the year a winning one on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Jana Nejedly, 21, of Palm Springs. It was just the eighth professional match for Williams, playing here for the first time.
 

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Interesting reading, I had no idea Debbie Graham had to face all this. BTW as with way many other players, I have only her name in my memory and got only results of her matches sporadically on the newspaper back in the day, as you know with no Internet, I just waited for the morning to come to see if the results were on the paper to learn about how the tournaments were going and especially my faves. Almost every player was just a name and you never got to know her face, let alone to see her play except if she got to play a top player at a big tournament and got televised. Only now I can finally SEE and put a face to a lot of names :smile2:
And really Mrs. A., so nice to read all this you take the trouble to upload, and re live some years of the best tennis I've ever seen. Thank you so much :wavey:
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Interesting reading, I had no idea Debbie Graham had to face all this. BTW as with way many other players, I have only her name in my memory and got only results of her matches sporadically on the newspaper back in the day, as you know with no Internet, I just waited for the morning to come to see if the results were on the paper to learn about how the tournaments were going and especially my faves. Almost every player was just a name and you never got to know her face, let alone to see her play except if she got to play a top player at a big tournament and got televised. Only now I can finally SEE and put a face to a lot of names :smile2:
And really Mrs. A., so nice to read all this you take the trouble to upload, and re live some years of the best tennis I've ever seen. Thank you so much :wavey:
You're welcome! I'm glad other people like to learn more about the "supporting cast" players. Even now, too many of them remain little more than scorelines in a database, and many triumphs of the human spirit or "Life Lessons of Tennis" are overlooked.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Yay, World Transplant Championships!

One set down, but winning the game of life
By TONY STEPHENS
January 11, 1996
Sydney Morning Herald

While most of the crowd watched Monica Seles at White City yesterday, a small band at an outside court applauded qualities of a different sort: the marvel of modern medicine and a young woman's spirit.

They watched Kerrin Litchfield mix it with the tennis pros.

Ms Litchfield was a good tennis player until discovering in 1990, aged 17, that she had acute myeloid leukaemia.

She had chemotherapy and the disease went into remission. However, she suffered a relapse. First she couldn't walk by herself, then she couldn't get out of bed. She was told that only a bone marrow transplant could save her life.

Bone marrow from her sister, Carly, was not compatible. Her mother, Judie, couldn't help either. Her father, Barry, was not fully compatible. "But it was Dad or nothing," Ms Litchfield said before her exhibition match on Court 4 yesterday.

Given only a 20 per cent chance of survival, Ms Litchfield amazed doctors in Melbourne with her positive attitude.

"I told myself I would get through it," she said, "although there were times when I thought I might be dead the next week and when I wondered what my funeral would be like."

Ms Litchfield received her father's bone marrow in March 1991. She has only one more health check before what she expects will be the final all-clear. She is taking a physical education course, works as a gymnasium instructor and does some tennis coaching.

Yesterday she partnered Mark Cocks in a mixed doubles match against professionals, Australian Paul Kilderry and American Kimberly Po, who has been ranked 40th in the world.

Mr Cocks, 43, of Sydney, made the last 16 of the Australian Men's Championship in 1972, when Ken Rosewall won it and was ranked among the top 100 men in the world.

However, his health suffered soon after and he had a kidney transplant in 1978. After his health deteriorated again and it became obvious that he would need another kidney, his sister, Julie Edwards, gave one in 1991.

He returned to tennis in 1980, and again after his second operation. He has regularly won the men's title at the World Transplant Championships, the last one in Manchester when Kerrin Litchfield won the women's.

Yesterday they were watched by a group of young kidney patients, some post-transplant and others on dialysis.

Kilderry and Po won 6-3, but it was a good result for Cocks and Litchfield in life's big game.

Ms Litchfield looked pleased. "I have every reason to be."
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Pierce gets liking for winning feeling
CAROLINE OVERINGTON
January 10, 1996
The Age

Twelve months ago, Mary Pierce won the Ford Australian Open. It was her only grand slam title. Now it is Open time again, and it is still her only grand slam title.

As Pierce said herself yesterday: ``Goodness, what on earth is Mary doing?"

Good question. Commentators had hoped that Pierce, after last year's win, would breathe life into the women's game.

Instead, she did not reach so much as a grand slam quarter- final.

``Well, I guess I can just say that last year didn't end as good as it started," Pierce said. ``I started really well, maybe too good. Then I tried to do too much and my body got tired.

``And, in any case, you can't win all the time, (although) of course I still feel I have the ability to play against the top players."

Pierce is ranked fourth in the world, behind Steffi Graf and Monica Seles (who hold joint No. 1 ranking), Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

She won the Australian Open title with neither Graf nor Seles present, both she and Sanchez Vicario reaching the final without conceding a set. Pierce won 6-3, 6-2, in 85 minutes.

Later in the year, Tennis Australia scrapped equal prizemoney for women. ``I'm surprised," Pierce said of that decision.

``Women's tennis is getting more and more exciting. A lot of us are playing well. Why are we going back?"

Yet she did not consider a boycott. ``All the players were upset, but there are better solutions than that."

Better solutions? Yes, playing better tennis, which is what Pierce intends to do.

``I'm very happy with the way I'm hitting the ball," she said. She is also more confident, dismissing a Sydney newspaper report that she had said Seles would win the Open.

``Is that so?" Pierce said. ``No, I would never say that.

I wouldn't tip anybody to win except myself."

Pierce believes she can beat Seles: ``On any given day, I have the game to beat anybody." She has not played a tournament for six weeks, admits to feeling tired, mentally and physically, but is certainly not jaded. ``This is my first tournament for the year and I'm very excited."

Of last year's victory, Pierce said: ``I remember it very, very clearly. At 40-15, I just needed a point to win. I thought, `no, don't think about it, just play like this point is any other point'." Which she did, slamming a cross-court winner.

The winning feeling, Pierce said, is ``impossible to explain".

Except that it is ``amazing. Just . . ." She looks skywards, rolls her eyes and smiles.

It is a feeling she hopes to recapture, while acknowledging tough competition. ``But I feel like I've improved. I'd like to win again because, when you do, it's unbelievable, a dream come true."
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Hingis was just getting warmed up! Keep track of the racket abuse warnings in 1996!

Philippoussis bombs out to qualifier
GERARD WRIGHT
January 10, 1996
The Age


Sydney.

A roadblock has appeared in the path of what was supposed to be Mark Philippoussis' accelerated journey to the top 10.

It changes shape and identity from week to week, and worst of all, there are no detour signs posted.

The ``Scud' of other victories misfired again yesterday, losing in straight sets in the first round of the Peters International to English qualifier Tim Henman, 6-4, 6-2.

This follows two defeats in three starts for the 19-year- old Australian at the Hopman Cup in Perth last week.

Despite his denials, it would appear the weight of public expectations has become a burden for Philippoussis, now ranked 39th in the world.

He entered the White City centre court to as warm a welcome as any Melbourne tennis hero could hope to receive, and walked off about 90 minutes later with the doubts of the crowd spoken aloud by his 95th-ranked opponent after the match.

``It seemed to me his game can sometimes become a little one-dimensional," Henman said. ``He's a hell of a player and his results have shown that, but sometimes, if things aren't going well for me, I have to change them around and have a plan B.

``He didn't change too much, which is fortunate for me. Maybe if he had changed things, it would have made life more awkward. I had to just keep playing the way I was."

These remarks were relayed to an obviously disappointed Philippoussis at his news conference. ``No. That's bullshit, " he replied. ``I'll serve and volley or I'll stay back. I've pretty much got my game together, it's just that I'm not playing well.

``I had an off day, had two or three break points every game (in the first set). If you don't take them, you don't deserve to win. You just give it to them."

In Melbourne, meanwhile, Patrick Rafter, the man previously billed as the next big thing of Australian tennis, admitted he ``went into a shell" last year under the weight of public expectation.

But he said he did not expect Philippoussis to do the same.

``I don't think it's a bad thing. It was a learning experience for me," said Rafter. ``Mark has a different personality to me and I think he'll deal with it better."

Henman, 21, was previously famous as the first player to be disqualified from Wimbledon, after a ball he struck in anger after losing a point in a doubles match last year accidentally hit a ballgirl in the head.

The heat of the moment and a no less implacable opponent also told on another of the game's rising hopes.

Martina Hingis, ranked 19th in the world, was issued with a verbal warning for racquet abuse and was lucky not to receive another during an enthralling three-set loss to 17th-ranked eighth seed Naoko Sawamatsu, of Japan.

Hingis let slip four match points. The Swiss 15-year-old bounced her racquet in disgust after dropping the first set, then threw it at the refrigerator next to the umpire's chair after dropping serve in the sixth game of the third set.

For this, she received a warning from chair umpire Troy Gaston, of Sydney.

Seeded players to fall yesterday included men's second seed Richard Krajicek, sixth seed Jan Siemerink and Spaniard Alberto Costa, the eighth seed, to Australian Mark Woodforde.

TODAY'S DRAW Centre court: 11am: T Henman (GB) v M Woodforde (SA), followed by M Seles (US) v D Monami (Belg), G Ivanisevic (Croatia) v M Norman (Sweden), M J Fernandez (US) v A Coetzer (S Af), T Woodbridge (NSW)-M Woodforde (SA) v E Ferreira (S AF)-J Siemerink (Neths). 7pm: A Carlsson (Sweden) v L Davenport (US), followed by L Jensen-M Jensen (US) v C Suk-D Vacek (Czech).
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Fans hail their heroine's return
HEATHER SMITH
January 11, 1996
Sydney Morning Herald

The diva was uncharacteristically nervous. Patrons had flocked in their thousands to see her perform and the stage was disconcertingly large and bare. Would she delight or disappoint?

Judging by the response from White City's sellout centre-court crowd, Monica Seles provided far more than just a tennis match at the Peters International yesterday afternoon.

It was both a star's Sydney debut and a long-awaited comeback to competition in Australia. The crowd of 12,146 - the biggest at the tournament in 15 years - adored her and the children idolised her.

On the strength of such a public welcome, the top seed quickly overcame her stage-fright and turned on a performance which, while not exactly vintage Seles, was masterful enough to please her fans.

Her biting two-handed groundstrokes - which for the most part kept her Belgian opponent, Dominique Monami, scurrying all over the court - provided evidence that she had lost none of her power.

Seles, absent from tennis for 27 months, began her third tournament since her comeback at the Canadian Open last August with a 6-1 6-2 second-round victory over Monami in 55 minutes.

The 22-year-old has not played since the US Open last year because of successive knee and ankle injuries, and she was clearly pleased yesterday to return to the competitive fray.

But it was the crowd and, in particular, the kids, who made her day.

"The fans were amazing. There were a few who were coaching me the whole time. It was great," a smiling Seles said.

"It was very nice and I think for the whole time they never let up. Whenever you get a crowd like this, it's the kind of conditions, as an athlete, that you want to be in. It was very special."

Immediately following her match, Seles, accompanied by her ever-present bodyguard, did a lap of the centre-court area, signing dozens of autographs for children.

As a child growing up in the former Yugoslavia, Seles, too, collected autographs of great tennis players. In a glass case at her parents' home, she still has a scrawled signature from Bjorn Borg and a racquet given to her by that flamboyant Frenchman and 1983 French Open champion, Yannick Noah.

"It's really good when you see all the little kids (getting autographs) because I see myself in their eyes a lot of times," she said. "When I was seven, eight, that's what I used to do. It's great to have autograph books and things like that because I think later on you cherish those things.

"When I first came on the tour and I won my first tournament at Houston, I was so mad I didn't get a trophy. That's what mattered to me the most.

"The tournament made a special one for me. To have the trophy from your first tournament, little things like that, I think later on in life you appreciate more."

The bubbly co-world No 1 (with Steffi Graf) has been in Sydney a week, enjoying outings to the Botanic Gardens, the Opera House, Queen Victoria Building, Bondi Beach and to Watson's Bay, where she had her first taste of octopus.

But Seles, mindful of her unbeaten record in Australia, which includes three consecutive grand slam titles in Melbourne from 1991-93, is not forgetting why she's here.

She had a solid hit-up before her match and planned at least another half-hour on the court late yesterday afternoon to prepare for her hard-hitting quarter-final opponent, South African Mariaan de Swardt.

Seles thought she played "OK" against the diminutive Monami, who was certainly not overawed by the occasion and returned her high-profile opponent's shots with gusto. The swirling wind contributed, in part, to Seles losing two service games in the second set, but she quickly ended Monami's hopes of an upset victory by breaking back in the following service games.

The International's star attraction overshadowed the admirable performances of Australian players Mark Woodforde, Jason Stoltenberg, Scott Draper, Todd Woodbridge and Richard Fromberg.

The quintet all qualified for the quarter-finals, leaving only three overseas players - No 1 seed Goran Ivanisevic, Greg Rusedski and fifth seed Todd Martin - to fill the remaining places.

Fromberg avenged a painful 1995 loss in the final of this tournament by comfortably downing Patrick McEnroe 6-4 6-1. Draper achieved a similar result by beating Italian Renzo Furlan 6-1 7-5.

Woodforde, who overcame qualifier Tim Henman 3-6 6-3 6-3, and Stoltenberg, who finally disposed of Karol Kucera 2-6 6-2 7-6 (7-3), chose to do it the hard way.

Stoltenberg was playing so badly in the windy, unsettling conditions that he admitted later that he needed a miracle to escape - he came back from 2-5, 0-40 down in the final set.

"He started off playing a lot better than me and I think I brought him down to my level," Stoltenberg said. "I was having one of those days."

Stoltenberg meets fellow NSW player Woodbridge, who made short work of qualifier Sebastian Lareau 6-3 6-4.

In the other men's quarter-final matches, Woodforde will meet Ivanisevic, who was a struggling 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 winner over Swede Magnus Norman, Fromberg plays Martin, and Draper is up against Rusedski.

Nicole Bradtke, who plays Japan's Naoko Sawamatsu today, is Australia's sole remaining representative in the women's event.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
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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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Discussion Starter #32
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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Discussion Starter #33
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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Discussion Starter #34
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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Discussion Starter #35
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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Discussion Starter #36
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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Discussion Starter #37
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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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Discussion Starter #38
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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Discussion Starter #39
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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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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