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Eastbourne lures Graf and Seles
John Roberts
The Independent
London, England
May 18, 1996

Monica Seles, who has not played at Wimbledon since 1992, may complete the preparation for her return to the All England Club by joining Steffi Graf in making her debut at the Direct Line Insurance Championships at Eastbourne from 17 to 22 June.

George Hendon, the Eastbourne tournament director, confirmed yesterday that a wild card had been requested for Seles. "We've been told by her management that, providing she comes through the French Open OK, it's her intention to play at Eastbourne," hesaid.

A joint appearance by the two players co-ranked No 1 in the world would be an unexpected bonus. Graf and Seles rarely compete at the same tournaments outside the four Grand Slams, one tending to be injured when the other is fit.

Seles has competed in only five events since making her comeback last August, almost two and a half years after being stabbed by a spectator in Hamburg in April, 1993. In January, when Seles won the Australian Open, Graf was absent, recovering from afoot operation.

Although Graf once played in the under-21 event at Eastbourne, it is the first time she has entered the main draw. During the past five years, many leading women players have preferred to practise the week before Grand Slams rather than risk their ranking by playing tournaments. The situation has been eased by a new WTA Tour rule which protects the points average of top players who enter events the week before a Grand Slam.

Seles, who has been nursing an injured shoulder since competing in Tokyo the week after the Australian Open, is due to play in Madrid next week in the hope of finding her feet on clay courts on the eve of the French Open, which starts on 27 May.

The men have been scuffling with the same objective in mind here at the Italian Open, where Stefan Edberg bade farewell to the championships yesterday in circumstances more dramatic and emotional than a 6-3, 6-3 defeat by the Dutchman Richard Krajicekmight suggest.

For one thing, Krajicek came close to beating the fastest serve recorded in the seven years of the ATP Tour - the 220.4kph by Britain's Greg Rusedski. Krajicek was timed at 220kph (137mph).

The delivery, which came when Krajicek was leading 4-3, 30-30 in the second set of the quarter-final, was not an ace. Edberg managed to get his racket to the ball, but could only watch his return fly wide.

Blocking the shot would not have improved Edberg's dodgy wrist, which he had shaken in pain after attempting to parry a smash two points earlier. But the Swede still contrived to create two break points in the game, the second with a superb top-spinlob. In each case, Krajicek salvaged the situation with an ace.

The 24-year-old Dutchman served, returned and volleyed with conviction throughout, and regularly drew Edberg to the net and passed him. Although outplayed at his own elegant game, Edberg never lost the support of the capacity Centre Court crowd.

So warm was the standing ovation accorded Edberg at the finish that one would have imagined him to be a regular visitor to the Foro Italico rather than making his third, and final, trip to the tournament.

In today's semi-finals Krajicek will play South Africa's Wayne Ferreira, who defeated Andrei Medvedev, 6-4, 6-4. Ferreira reached the same stage last year, losing to Thomas Muster, the eventual champion.

Muster, who had an unexpectedly comfortable 6-3, 6-2 win against the Chilean second seed, Marcelo Rios, renews his rivalry with Spain's Alberto Costa.
 

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Thank you Ms. Anthropic for the informative articles. Steffi is truly one of a kind.
 

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GRAF IN GERMAN FINAL
The Stuart News
May 19, 1996
The Associated Press

BERLIN -- Top-ranked Steffi Graf beat Iva Majoli, 7-5, 6-1 Saturday to reach her record 11th German Open final.

Graf will play Karina Habsudova, who beat Elena Likhovtseva 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) in the other semifinal. Habsudova advanced to the semifinal after upsetting Anke Huber, Mary Pierce and Swiss teen-ager Martina Hingis.

Graf and Majoli engaged in some spirited baseline duels. Graf put away the match by pouncing on some key double-faults by the 18-year-old.

But Graf, an eight-time German Open winner, often proved steadier in the baseline power game the two players displayed, which drew roars of approval from the 7,000 spectators.

"Majoli definitely has all the possibilities to be No. 1,'' Graf said. "She just lacks patience. Sometimes she risked too much today."

Graf took control of the match at 2-1 in the second set when Majoli double faulted. Majoli scrambled back from 3-5 before another double fault set up set point.

ELSEWHERE: Germany's Spiegel magazine reported the trial of Graf's father, Peter, on tax fraud charges, is likely to start after the U.S. Open in September. Peter Graf has been held in investigative custody since August. Steffi Graf remains under investigation.

Spiegel said it was still unclear whether Steffi will be called to testify as a witness, or may face charges herself.
 

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Graf slips into the right gear
The Independent on Sunday
London, England
May 19, 1996

Steffi Graf overcame a hesitant start to reach the final of the German Open clay-court tournament for the 11th time with a 7-5 6-1 victory over the Croatian third seed, Iva Majoli, in Berlin yesterday.

Graf, the top seed, who first won this tournament a decade ago, got her game into gear after a tight first set and produced another confidence-boosting display before the French Open later this month.

The German ace is lacking match practice this year after injury worries in her build-up to Paris, the second Grand Slam of the year. "Every match helps," Graf said. "I am getting better from game to game. It was important to have a tight first set. That is important before the French Open."

In today's final, Graf faces Slovakia's unseeded Karina Habsudova, who continued her superb week with a 6-1 7-6 defeat of Russian Elena Likhovtseva in the second semi-final. Likhovtseva had disposed of the defending champion, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in her quarter-final. Habsudova clinched the match by winning the second-set tie-break, 7-4.

Habsudova, who had knocked out the Swiss teenager Martina Hingis, the French star Mary Pierce and the German fourth seed, Anke Huber, on her way to the final, said: "Steffi's playing at home, she's the big star and I've got nothing to lose."
 

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Gritty Graf on final roll
The Sunday Mirror
London, England
May 19, 1996

Steffi Graf came through a tight first set to reach her 11th German Open final with a 7-5, 6-1 win against Croatia's Iva Majoli.

Graf, who first won this tournament a decade ago, has been lacking match practice because of injury worries in her build-up to the French Open.

She admitted: "Every match helps. I am getting better from game to game. It was important to have a tight first set before the French Open. The crowd were really behind me.''

Graf faces Slovakia's unseeded Karina Habsudova, who beat Russian Elena Likhovtseva 6-1, 7-6, in today's final.
 

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It used to be on Youtube, and will probably show up there again. It's a very non-standard Graf match, but a kind of "tactician's delight," as Chrissie runs through her bag of tricks and Steffi counters everything. By the end, Steffi was repeatedly rolling her backhand, and Bud Collins remarked, "The kid believes!"
Thanks I'd love to watch it. I'll keep looking.
 

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Thanks I'd love to watch it. I'll keep looking.
The unfortunate fact that videos get taken off Youtube all the time is something the various historical video threads will stumble over. In answer to Rollo's question about a Steffi video thread, I think there was/is one, but it is very out of date now, because all or almost all of the content of "The Steffi Channel" was taken down.
 

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Graf grinds out victory
From Alix Ramsay in Berlin
The Times
London, England
May 20, 1996

A NINTH German Open tennis title, another $200,000 safely in the bank, but for Steffi Graf, a week's work has not been as productive as she had hoped. She came to Berlin looking to hone her game on clay in preparation for the French Open and boost her confidence after a miserable performance in Rome the week before. But yesterday, faced with her first real test of the tournament, she struggled to beat Karina Habsudova, the giant-killer of the week, 4- 6, 6-2, 7-5.

Habsudova's game-plan has been the same in every match hit the ball early, hit the ball hard and let your opponent make the mistakes. Against Graf in the first set, the plan was working perfectly. Graf's famous and ferocious forehand was out of kilter and Habsudova was making the most of it.

Only in the second set, as Habsudova appeared a little stunned at having taken a set from the world No1, did Graf begin to look more businesslike. Habsudova was always chasing Graf's shadow or, as she put it, "if she is putting pressure on you, you can't put pressure on her".

Just when it looked as if Graf was firmly in control, however, breaking Habsudova for an early lead at the start of the third set, the tools of her trade started to let her down. Time and again she was caught by the power of Habsudova's backhand.

She had her first match point at 5-3 and tried to be clever. Moving wide to take the service on her forehand for what she thought would be a thundering winner, she left the court wide open and was promptly punished. The scream directed at no one in particular said it all.

"I was frustrated," she said. "I did not play well on that point, I tried for something that was not right and after that I was upset and a bit nervous and I was making mistakes."

Against someone playing their first big tournament final, however, experience finally told. Habsudova broke to level the score at 5-5 only to be broken herself, allowing Graf to serve for the match. On her second match point she made no mistake with the forehand but even with the victory in the bag, she was not particularly happy. The French Open is only one week away and her performance yesterday was not what she had in mind.
 

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Yes, even the longest-lasting No. 1 does still sometimes have a "Stupid, why can't you keep the ball in play?" moment.

GRAF WINS GERMAN OPEN
The Cincinnati Post
May 20, 1996
Associated Press

BERLIN -- Steffi Graf won her ninth German Open, but was forced to battle over three tough sets before ending the upset run of Slovakia's Karina Habsudova.

The top-seeded Graf let a match point slip away before completing a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Habsudova, who had defeated three top-20 players to reach the final.

Graf, who has won the German Open more than any other tournament, said the title restored some of her confidence for the French Open, which starts May 27. She rebounded from a quarterfinal loss to Martina Hingis last week in Rome.

"To win on clay again was very important," Graf said. "But the uncertainty is still there; it's not gone yet."

Graf screamed "dumb" when she let her first match point escape at 5-4 in the third set, hitting a short ball that Habsudova whipped into the open court.

"I thought, 'Stupid, why can't you keep the ball in play?' " Graf said. "But I must say, she played some unbelievable shots."

But Graf recovered in the next game to break the serve of Habsudova, who had ousted Germany's Anke Huber, France's Mary Pierce and Hingis.

Graf won $200,000 while Habsudova earned $100,000. It was Graf's 98th career title.

Habsudova, 22, who has been slowed by injuries during the past three years, began the year ranked No. 98. She will break into the top 30 next week.

"Now, I've learned I can beat these players," Habsudova said. "I just have to believe in myself."
 

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One of those real life "ironic echo" moments. When Steffi won the German Open in 1986 and Martina N. had her little teary moment, Steffi made an "Are you OK?" overture, to which Martina replied with a "Yeah" and a smile that suggested the kid would never understand. But 10 years later, I think the kid understood.

Tennis: Tears as Graf wins her ninth German Open
The Guardian
London, England
May 20, 1996

STEFFI GRAF wiped tears of happiness from her eyes as a Berlin crowd rose to acclaim her 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Karina Habsudova in the final of the Women's German Open, a clay-court title she has now claimed nine times.

The ovation from her compatriots proved that Graf's popularity has not diminished since her father was detained last August and later charged with evading taxes on millions of dollars of her earnings. 'To play here was a difficult decision at first,' Graf admitted, 'but from the first day I knew it was the right decision. I am incredibly happy I made it.'

The world joint No. 1 was given a tough final by the unseeded Habsudova, who showed no signs of nerves and took the opening set with a series of pinpoint shots down the lines.

On her way to the final the 22-year-old Slovak had knocked out the highly rated Swiss teenager Martina Hingis, the French No. 1 Mary Pierce, the No. 4 seed Anke Huber and Russia's Elena Likhovtseva. But she was unable to extend her string of upsets as Graf hit her stride.

Inspired by a partisan crowd, the top seed forcefully took the second set, decisively broke service at 5-5 in the third, and served out for a morale-boosting victory in the run-up to the French Open beginning next Monday.
 

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Tearful triumph for Graf
Daily Mail
London, England
May 20, 1996

STEFFI GRAF recovered from a hesitant start to beat Slovakia's Karina Habsudova 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 and win the German Open clay title for the ninth time in Berlin yesterday.

In her first home appearance since coming under investigation for tax evasion, top-seed Graf broke Habsudova's serve at 5-5 in the third set and then held serve to clinch victory.

Graf wiped tears from her eyes as the crowd cheered her success.

The 22-year-old Slovak who beat Swiss teenager Martina Hingis, French No 1 Mary Pierce, German fourth-seed Anke Huber and Russian Elena Likhovtseva on her way to the final, started the match superbly and showed no signs of nerves as she took the first set with a series of pinpoint shots down the lines.

But she was unable to press home her advantage as Graf, who first won the tournament a decade ago, got her game into gear to complete a confidence-boosting victory before the French Open later this month.

Graf said: 'It was a difficult decision to play here but I felt a lot better after I made it. From the first day here I knew it was the right decision. I am incredibly happy I made it.'

BELGIUM'S Dominique Van Roost leapt up to 35th in the world rankings with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over compatriot Laurence Courtois in the final of the Rover Women's International in Cardiff. It was Van Roost's first tour win and earned her [pounds sterling]11,000.
 

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Hi, everyone, in case there are fans don't visit GM often, I'd like to share a news that Steffi will endorse the WTA Zhuhai match in south part of China this year, and visit China very possibly.

I don't care how did this happened as Steffi does not show up publicly lately, but our Chinese fans are really happy about it because she rarely visits east asia.
For me, I've regreted for 3+ years that I was on a business trip to Turky in 2012 when she played in Taipei. So I definitly wont miss this chance.

We still dont know what kind of public event will there be because we are not sure if everything will copy last year exactly where LiNa met her fans. We tried to contact the commitee but haven't heard from them yet.
If any of you are interested, once there is update, I'll post it here.
 

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Hi, everyone, in case there are fans don't visit GM often, I'd like to share a news that Steffi will endorse the WTA Zhuhai match in south part of China this year, and visit China very possibly.

I don't care how did this happened as Steffi does not show up publicly lately, but our Chinese fans are really happy about it because she rarely visits east asia.
For me, I've regreted for 3+ years that I was on a business trip to Turky in 2012 when she played in Taipei. So I definitly wont miss this chance.

We still dont know what kind of public event will there be because we are not sure if everything will copy last year exactly where LiNa met her fans. We tried to contact the commitee but haven't heard from them yet.
If any of you are interested, once there is update, I'll post it here.
I read the news, but didn't really understand what it was about:eek:.
Yes let us know ! I never visit the GM forums.
 

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A bit disappointed by the 1996 Berlin articles (not by you Mrs A lol), the articles very (can't find the word) about the results, the matches.
I followed it every day on (german) tv back then, it was special, not just about the tennis you know, the expectation, the emotional part, etc...
 

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A bit disappointed by the 1996 Berlin articles (not by you Mrs A lol), the articles very (can't find the word) about the results, the matches.
I followed it every day on (german) tv back then, it was special, not just about the tennis you know, the expectation, the emotional part, etc...
It's the language barrier. Besides, the AP and other wire reports tended to be less "emotional" and more dry.
 

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The Body Defeats the Mind
Berliner Zeitung
May 13, 1996
By Volker Gundrum

The 89th edition of the Ladies German Open begins today on the grounds of the Rot-Weiß Lawn Tennis Club on the Hundekehlesee. And the undisputed star of the event will be Steffi Graf, who changed her mind about her initial intentions to skip the tournament after her quarterfinal loss in Rome and will now give it a go in Berlin after all.

The best tennis player in the world finds herself in a quandry just three weeks before the French Open in Paris. "I lost a lot of self-confidence in Rome," Graf admitted about her 6-2, 2-6, 3-6 loss to Martina Hingis. The dilemma facing the 26-year-old before her first grand Slam tournament of the year is clear: "I feel emotionally and mentally burnt out and urgently need a break, but I need match practice just as urgently."

For the time being, the body has the upperhand over the needs of the mind. In order to make up for her present, serious deficiency of match practice as quickly as possible, Steffi Graf took a wildcard for the German Open. Her first opponent will be either the young German hopeful Marlene Weingaertner or American Tami Whitlinger-Jones.

The commitment of Germany's most prominent player took a load off of tournament director Eberhard Wensky's mind. "Without Steffi Graf, you would have had to describe the line-up for the German Open as a catastrophe." The Top Ten players Kimiko Date (Japan) and Chanda Rubin (USA) already had to withdraw.

Wensky said: "Steffi Graf is the most perfect female athlete of our time and the Number One player of the century. Our new stadium construction is dedicated to her, she has elevated this tournament to greatness. We didn't pressure her to play here. She just finally realized that she needs to play a lot of matches in order to be in top form for the French Open."

If the eight-time champion of the Berlin Open can fulfill the high expectations in her present state of health and mind seems rather questionable. During her loss to 15-year-old Martina Hingis, Graf horrified her fans with countless mistakes from her already not-so-strong backhand and a forehand that was lacking any depth or precision. "I had zero confidence in my shots and no feel for my game," Graf explained. She hadn't felt right on the court for the whole week. "Physically, I am not in good shape, I need to work urgently on my physical fitness."

But at any rate, Steffi Graf will set a new record in Berlin. No other player has been at the top of the rankings longer. Today, the 26-year-old supersedes Martina Navratilova as the all-time record holder. 332 weeks at the summit, and with that, the German passes the American by seven days. "That means a lot to me," she said. For almost six years and four months, Steffi Graf was and is the best tennis player in the world.

Australian Open finalist Anke Huber plays her first match on either Tuesday or Wednesday against either Lindsay Lee (USA) or Larissa Neiland (Latvia). In total, 11 German players are taking part in the German Open. The Center Court can be extended via retractable stands to accomodate a capacity of 7002 spectators.

Der Körper besiegt den Kopf
Tennis: Steffi Graf doch bei den German Open in Berlin am Start
BERLINER ZEITUNG
13.05.1996
Volker Gundrum

Heute beginnen auf der Anlage des LTC Rot-Weiß am Hundekehlesee die 89. German Open der Tennis-Damen. Und unbestrittener Star der Veranstaltung wird Steffi Graf sein, die ihre ursprüngliche Absage nach der Viertelfinal-Niederlage in Rom revidierte und nun doch in Berlin an den Start gehen wird.

Doch drei Wochen vor den French Open in Paris steckt die beste Tennisspielerin der Welt in einem tiefen Loch. "Ich habe in Rom viel Selbstvertrauen verloren", gab Steffi Graf nach dem 6:2, 2:6, 3:6 gegen Martina Hingis zu. Das Dilemma, in dem die 26jährige vor ihrem ersten Grand-Slam-Turnier 1996 steckt, ist klar: "Ich fühle mich psychisch ausgebrannt und brauche dringend eine Pause, aber genauso dringend brauche ich Matchpraxis."

In dieser Zwickmühle hat zunächst der Körper die Oberhand über den Kopf behalten. Um ihre derzeit gravierenden spielerischen Mängel möglichst schnell in den Griff zu bekommen, nahm Steffi Graf doch noch Wildcard für die German Open an. Ihre Auftakt-Gegnerin wird am Dienstag Nachwuchshoffnung Marlene Weingärtner vom ausrichtenden LTTC Rot-Weiß oder Tami Whitlinger-Jones (USA) sein.

Berlins Turnierdirektor Eberhard Wensky fiel nach der Zusage seines prominentesten Vereinsmitglieds ein Stein vom Herzen. "Ohne Steffi Graf hätte man die Besetzung der German Open als Katastrophe bezeichnen müssen." Zuvor hatten mit Kimiko Date (Japan) und Chanda Rubin (USA) bereits Top-ten-Spielerinnen absagen müssen.

Wensky weiter: "Steffi Graf ist die perfekteste Sportlerin unserer Zeit und die Nummer eins dieses Jahrhunderts. Ihr ist unser Stadionsausbau gewidmet, sie hat dieses Turnier großgemacht. Wir haben keinen Druck auf sie ausgeübt. Letztendlich hat sie aber eingesehen, daß sie viele Matches braucht, um für die French Open in Topform zu kommen."

Ob die achtmalige Berlin-Siegerin die hohen Erwartungen in ihrer derzeitigen Verfassung erfüllen kann, scheint eher fraglich. Bei der Niederlage gegen die 15jährige Martina Hingis entsetzte Steffi Graf ihre Anhänger durch unzählige Fehler mit der ohnehin nicht so starken Rückhand und einer Vorhand, die jegliche Härte und Präzision vermissen ließ. "Ich hatte null Vertrauen in meine Schläge und kein Gefühl für mein Spiel", gab Graf zu. Schon die ganze Woche über hatte sie sich auf dem Platz nicht wohl gefühlt. "Körperlich bin ich nicht in Schuß, ich muß dringend an meiner physischen Fitneß arbeiten."

Immerhin aber wird Steffi Graf mit einem neuen Rekotrd in Berlin eintreffen. Keine Spielerin stand länger an der Spitze der Weltrangliste. Heute löst die 26jährige die US-Amerikanerin Martina Navratilova als ewige Beste auf dem Tennisthron ab. 332 Wochen und damit sieben Tage länger als die Amerikanerin steht die Deutsche auf dem Gipfel. "Das bedeutet mir sehr viel", sagt sie. Fast sechs Jahre und vier Monate war und ist Steffi Graf damit die beste Tennisspielerin der Welt.

Australian-Open-Finalistin Anke Huber (Karlsdorf) bestreitet ihr Auftaktspiel am Dienstag oder Mittwoch gegen Linsy Lee (USA) oder Larissa Leiland (Lettland). Insgesamt elf deutsche Spielerinnen nehmen an den German Open teil. Der Centre Court wurde durch ausfahrbare Tribünen auf ein Fassungsvermögen von 7 002 Zuschauern erweitert.
 

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Tears Followed the Victory
Tennis: Steffi Graf wins the German Open for the ninth time

"Berliner Zeitung"
20 May 1996
Reinhold Schnupp

Yesterday, Steffi Graf crowned her appearance at the 89th German Open with her overall ninth victory. In her eleventh overall final in Berlin, she defeated the Slovak Karina Habsudova 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

"The applause which I received again, makes me break down again." The 98th tournament victory of Steffi Graf at the 89th International Tennis Championships of Germany became too moving a moment for the 26 year old. The world's number one needed to fight back her tears once again during her victory speech, just as she did at the beginning of the week after her first win when she was honored as "Athlete of the Year" for 1995.

The tournament at the Rot-Weiß Tennis Club in the Grunewald confirmed anew that the German Open in Berlin is the favorite tournament of Steffi Graf. Her decision to play in the tournament after all after her cancellation proved to be a stroke of luck not just for the tournament organizers. After she initially looked fragile and admitted to have had "fear of playing in Berlin," she rapidly stabilized her performances, and also her psyche. She described the decision "to have found the way here" as one of her most important experiences of the German Open.

In Berlin, she was spared questions about her imprisoned father, the sport stood at the forefront completely so, as is always wished for.

The Brühl resident was seriously challenged only in the final by her unseeded Slovakian opponent. In succession, the 54th ranked Karina Habsudova eliminated Martina Hingis from Switzerland, who had dumped Steffi Graf out of the recent tournament in Rome, then last year's Australian Open champion Mary Pierce, and finally Ludmila Richterova from the Czech Republic.

Only in the final, the 22-year-old then had to submit to Steffi Graf, although she put up considerable resistance. Three times in the first set alone, she broke Steffi Graf's serve, owing to her hard and well-placed ground strokes. Had she herself not had problems with her nerves and displayed weaknesses, above all with her own serve, Steffi Graf surely would have had more difficulty winning.

At any rate, the world's number one displayed amazement that her opponent, who was out of action for three months last year due to pneumonia, again and again answered her severely underspun balls with winning shots. "I had some highs and lows, that's why I'm especially happy about this win," she said.

She set the course for that when she broke her opponent's serve immediately at the beginning of the second set as well as the third. Nonetheless, it became close once more, above all at the end of the third act. Just as Steffi Graf served for the match, the Slovak would have to succeed in gaining a break once more to even the match at 5-5. Returning the favor, Steffi Graf, for her part, was able to break Karina Habsudova's service. "The decisive factor was my somewhat more aggressive shots," said Steffi Graf.

Later, respect was shown for the nearly unknown player from Slovakia even by president Roman Herzog, who had followed the match from the stands. "She played magnificently, her courage was admirable."

With her 98th tournament win -- she celebrated her first ten years ago in Berlin against Martina Navratilova [sic] -- Steffi Graf draws a little bit closer to the magical frontier of 100 successes. But for the time being, she didn't want to hear anything about new records. "Every tournament win is something special for me. Tonight, I'll celebrate."

The psyche of the woman from Brühl is still battered, but athletically, she leaves Berlin strengthened. She must be afraid of only a few opponents. But she herself is probably still her own biggest opponent. Just like with her loss a week ago to Martina Hingis, the 15-year-old wunderkind from Switzerland who played in the doubles final with Helena Sukova yesterday but just barely lost. Her thoughts aren't on the matter at hand on court, the level of her performance on the court is clearly lower. The French Open, which begins on Whit Monday in Paris, is the first Grand Slam tournament of 1996 for Steffi Graf. As the defending champion, she must show how strong she really is.

Dem Sieg folgten die Tränen
Tennis: Steffi Graf gewinnt zum neunten Mal die German Open
BERLINER ZEITUNG
20.05.1996
Reinhold Schnupp

Steffi Graf hat gestern ihren Auftritt bei den 89. German Open mit dem insgesamt neunten Sieg gekrönt. In ihrem insgesamt elften Endspiel in Berlin schlug sie die Slowakin Karina Habsudova 4:6, 6:2, 7:5.

"Der Applaus, den ich jetzt gerade wieder bekommen habe, macht mich schon wieder fertig." Der 98. Turniersieg von Steffi Graf bei den 89. Internationalen Tennis-Meisterschaften von Deutschland wurde für die 26jährige zu einem bewegenden Moment. Die Weltranglisten-Erste mußte bei ihrer Siegesansprache erneut mit den Tränen kämpfen, so wie zu Beginn der Woche, als sie nach ihrem ersten Sieg als Weltsportlerin des Jahres 1995 ausgezeichnet worden war.

Das Turnier beim LTTC Rot-Weiß im Grunewald bestätigte aufs neue, daß die German Open in Berlin das Lieblingsturnier Steffi Grafs sind. Ihre Entscheidung, nach der Absage das Turnier schließlich doch zu spielen, erwies sich nicht nur für den Veranstalter als Glücksfall. Nachdem sie anfangs zerbrechlich wirkte und zugab, "Angst vor einem Start in Berlin" gehabt zu haben, stabilisierte sie zusehends ihre Leistungen, aber auch ihre Psyche. So bezeichnete sie den Entschluß "hierher gefunden zu haben", als eines der wichtigsten Erlebnis der German Open.

Fragen nach dem inhaftierten Vater wurden ihr in Berlin erspart, der Sport stand im Vordergrund, ganz so, wie es sich immer wünscht.

Ernsthaft gefordert wurde die Brühlerin nur im Finale von ihrer slowakischen Gegnerin, die als Ungesetzte das Endspiel erreichte. Nacheinander eliminierte die Weltranglisten-54. Karina Habsudova Martina Hingis aus der Schweiz, die zuletzt in Rom Steffi Graf aus dem Turnier geworfen hatte, dann die letztjährige Australian Open-Siegerin Mary Pierce und schließlich Ludmila Richterova aus Tschechien.

Erst im Finale mußte sich die 22jährige dann Steffi Graf beugen, allerdings leistete sie erheblichen Widerstand. Dreimal allein im ersten Satz nahm sie aufgrund ihrer harten und plazierten Grundschläge Steffi Graf den Aufschlag ab. Hätte sie selbst nicht Probleme mit ihren Nerven bekommen und Schwächen vor allem beim eigenen Aufschlag gezeigt, wäre der Erfolg Steffi Graf wohl noch schwerer gefallen.

Die Weltranglisten-Erste jedenfalls zeigte sich verblüfft, daß ihre Gegnerin, die im letzten Jahr durch eine Lungenentzündung für drei Monate außer Gefecht war, immer wieder ihre stark unterschnittenen Bälle mit "Winner-Schlägen" beantwortete. "Ich hatte einige Höhen und Tiefen, darum bin ich über den Erfolg besonders glücklich", sagte sie.

Die Weichen dafür stellte sie, in dem sie ihrer Gegnerin gleich zu Beginn des zweiten als auch des dritten Satzes den Aufschlag abnahm. Dennoch wurde es vor allem im dritten Durchgang am Ende noch einmal eng. Ausgerechnet als Steffi Graf zum Matchgewinn aufschlug, gelang der Slowakin noch einmal ein Break zum 5:5-Gleichstand. Postwendend konnte Steffi Graf Karina Habsudova ihrerseits das Service abnehmen. "Den Ausschlag", so Steffi Graf, "haben meine etwas aggressiveren Schläge gegeben."

Respekt vor der nahezu unbekannten Spielerin aus der Slowakei zollte später auch Bundespräsident Roman Herzog, der das Spiel auf der Tribüne verfolgt hatte. "Sie hat großartig gespielt, ihre Courage war bewundernswert."

Mit dem 98. Turniersieg - den ersten hatte sie vor zehn Jahren in Berlin gegen Martina Navratilova gefeiert - ist Steffi Graf der magischen Grenze von 100 Erfolgen ein weiteres Stückchen näher gekommen. Doch von neuen Rekorden wollte sie vorerst nichts hören. "Jeder Turniersieg ist etwas Besonderes für mich. Heute abend wird gefeiert."

Die Psyche der Brühlerin ist weiter angeschlagen, doch sportlich verläßt sie Berlin gestärkt. Nur einige wenige Gegnerinnen muß sie fürchten. Mehr aber wohl noch sich selbst. So wie bei der Niederlage vor Wochenfrist gegen Martina Hingis, das 15jährige Wunderkind aus der Schweiz, das gestern das Doppel-Finale mit Helena Sukova bestritt, aber knapp verlor. Ist sie mit ihren Gedanken nicht bei der Sache, schlägt sich das deutlich auf die Leistungen auf dem Platz nieder. Die French Open, die am Pfingstmontag in Paris beginnen, sind für Steffi Graf das erste Grand Slam-Turnier 1996. Als Titelverteidigerin muß sie zeigen, wie stark sie wirklich ist.
 

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Sampras seeded first at French Open
Houston Chronicle
May 21, 1996
Houston Chronicle News Services

PARIS - Pete Sampras, the top-ranked player in the world who is still seeking success on clay, was seeded No. 1 in the French Open on Monday, but defending champion Thomas Muster is still the favorite.

Steffi Graf*and Monica Seles were top-seeded on the women's side. The pair share the top spot in the world rankings.

The organizing committee for the two-week tournament that opens May 27 went along with the tennis rankings of the professional tennis associations despite Muster's dominance of the clay courts. Sampras' tournament victories are mostly on fast surfaces.

Muster won his fifth clay tournament this year Sunday by capturing the Italian Open again. He is 98-3 over the past two seasons on clay.

"We have to rank our players according to the ATP statistics or else the decision could become too subjective," said Gilbert Ysern, chief referee of the tournament.

The draw for the tournament will be held Friday.

Behind Sampras, Muster is No. 2 followed by Andre Agassi and Michael Chang. Muster beat Chang in the final at Roland Garros in 1995.

Boris Becker will be fifth-seeded, followed by Goran Ivanisevic, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Jim Courier, who won in 1992 and 1993.

Graf, who won last year for the fourth time, and Seles, a three-time winner before the layoff that resulted from her being stabbed in 1993, are co-ranked No. 1.

"We're going to flip a coin to decide who gets the first draw." explained Ysern.

Seles will be making her comeback at Roland Garros, where she dominated from 1990 through 1992, winning 21 straight matches.

Rosset leads Switzerland -Marc Rosset upset Boris Becker in straight sets to pace Switzerland over Germany in the opening round of the World Team Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, while Spain beat Sweden 2-1.

Rosset beat Becker 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 and Jakob Hlasek sealed the victory by defeating David Prinosil 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 as Switzerland avenged its Davis Cup defeat against Germany earlier this year by winning 3-0.
 
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