Rick Leach

Davenport Defends Tiger’s Wife

Former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport is defending Elin Nordegren Woods, the wife of Tiger Woods, in lieu of accusations that she was too aggressive with an alleged attack on her husband after allegations of martial affairs surfaced late last month.

Davenport, the 1998 US Open and 1996 Olympic gold medalist and friends with the couple told Entertainment Tonight that Mrs. Woods was “very loving, very loyal” and “level-headed.” Says Davenport to ET, “The insinuation that [Elin] would be aggressive or attacking is just preposterous. … She always handles herself with class.”

Nordegren was mimicked for her alleged attack on Woods, that sent the golfing legend to the hospital, Saturday night during the popular American television show Saturday Night Live.

Says Davenport of the now shaky Woods marriage, “Anyone’s wish when they get married is to make it work, and we’ll see if they can do that.”

Davenport, who is currently not active on the WTA Tour, is married to Jon Leach, the younger brother of ATP doubles legend Rick Leach. Like Tiger and Elin, the couple have a baby boy and girl, son Jagger, born June 10, 2007 and daughter Lauren, born June 27, 2009

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal was asked of his opinion of the Woods controversy last weekend at the Davis Cup final in Barcelona and said to the inquiring reporter, “I am surprised you talk about that. We aren’t nobody to talk about his privacy life, no? He don’t have to say, explain to nobody about what he’s doing in his private life. That’s my think(ing). I think he’s a big champion and we have to respect his private life.”

Tennis History Tuesday: Presidential Participation

Presidential participation in tennis highlights today’s “Tennis History Tuesday” – which also marks the two-week mark for Barack Obama as President of the United States. U.S. President Harry Truman and Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe participated in duties associated with the Davis Cup in today’s excerpt from my new book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com). The following are events that happened today, February 3, on this day in tennis history.

February 3

1947 – President Harry Truman conducts the Davis Cup draw at the White House, joining U.S. President Calvin Coolidge as the only U.S Presidents to conduct the Davis Cup draw. Says Truman during the proceedings, “I hope the time will come when we can settle our international differences in courts, just as we settle our tennis differences on a court.”

1989 – Sixteen-year-old Michael Chang makes his Davis Cup debut defeating Victor Pecci 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 helping the United States to a 2-0 lead over Paraguay in the Davis Cup first round in Ft. Myers, Fla.  Chang also becomes the first American to play a Davis Cup tie-break in the first set of his match with Pecci. The tie-break is formally introduced to Davis Cup play (except in the fifth set) beginning in the 1989 season. Chang is also the second youngest player to play Davis Cup for the United States at this tie at the age of sixteen years, 11 months and 12 days. Wilbur Coen, at 16 years, 5 months in 1928, is the youngest American to play Davis Cup.

1985 – Nineteen-year-old and No. 19-ranked Stefan Edberg wins his second career singles title, trouncing Yannick Noah 6-1, 6-0 in 54 minutes in the final of the U.S. National Indoor Championships in Memphis. Edberg hits five aces and commits only three unforced errors against the No. 14 ranked Noah, who is slowed by an ankle injury. Says Edberg, “I don’t think I ever played so well.”

1990 – Rick Leach and Jim Pugh make their Davis Cup debuts for the United States and defeat Leonardo Lavalle and Jorge Lozano 6-4, 6-7, 7-5, 6-1 to clinch the 4-0 victory over Mexico in the Davis Cup first round in Carlsbad, Calif. Leach and Pugh become one of the most successful Davis Cup doubles pairings for the United States, posting a perfect 6-0 record in 1990 and 1991.

2000 – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe presides over the draw ceremony for the USA vs. Zimbabwe Davis Cup first round tie in Harare, Zimbabwe. The African leader, who later earns the reputation as one of the world’s most ruthless dictators, calls the first-round match between his tiny nation and the United States, featuring first-year captain John McEnroe and all-time great Andre Agassi, as “the dwarfs against the giants.”

Tennis History Tuesday – “RAFA ROUTED IN CHENNAI!”

Today, January 6, 2009, provides us with another edition of “Tennis History Tuesday” where TennisGrandstand.com gives readers another exclusive excerpt from my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY. (New Chapter Press, $19.95, www.tennishistorybook.com). With the ATP Tour in Doha and Chennai this week, it is interesting to remember Ivan Ljubicic winning “the golden falcon” and Rafael Nadal losing in not-so-memorable fashion.rafael_nadal

1992 – Twenty-year-old Stefano Pescosolido of Italy is defaulted from his final round qualifying match at the New South Wales Open in Sydney, Australia, when, after being aced by his opponent, Johan Anderson of Australia, he slams his racquet to the ground in disgust and drop kicks the racquet into the stands, striking a 22-year-old woman in the face. The woman is taken to the hospital where she receives stitches over her right eye. Pescosolido is also fined $1,500.

2007 – Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia wins “the golden falcon”  – the championship trophy of the Doha Open in Qatar – when he defeats Andy Murray of Scotland 6-4, 6-4 in the men’s singles final for his seventh career ATP tournament title Says Ljubicic, “This trophy is one of the most beautiful we have in tennis – the golden falcon. I wanted it so bad. Andy was a very good opponent. He fought hard and didn’t miss many balls, but I was patient. I knew I had to be aggressive but not too aggressive. Against someone like Andy you need to find the perfect balance, because if you go to the net too much, he will pass you. And if you stay at the baseline, he’s too solid. So the combination was the key today.”

2008 – World No. 2 Rafael Nadal has nothing left in the tank in a 57-minute, 6-0, 6-1 loss to Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny in the final of the Chennai Open in India. The previous night, Nadal defeats fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya 6-7 (3), 7-6 (8), 7-6 (1) in 3 hours, 54 minutes – saving four match points in the second-set tie-break – in the longest three-set match on the ATP Tour in 15 years.”Rafa was not Rafa,” says Youzhny of Nadal winning only one game against him in the final. “I did not win today, it was Rafa who lost. I did not expect it to be so easy. I was lucky as he just couldn’t move and couldn’t play.”  Says a classy Nadal, “Maybe I was a bit tired after the long semifinal, but I lost the final because Mikhail played very well.”

2007 – Dinara Safina of Russia, the younger sister of U.S. and Australian Open champion Marat Safin, wins her fifth career WTA title, defeating Martina Hingis 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in the final of the Australian women’s hard court championships on the Gold Coast. Says Hingis of Safina, “Today she was just too good and everyone should watch her because she’s gonna be maybe even better than her brother. Marat is such a genius. He can play unbelievable tennis. She (Safina) definitely doesn’t have as much touch but she has more will and desire.”

2008 – In the final edition of the Australian Hardcourt Championships at the famed Memorial Drive tennis courts in Adelaide, Australia, Michael Llodra of France defeats Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4 to win his second career ATP singles title. Llodra was the last directly accepted player into the 32-player field and only received entry into the event when countryman Richard Gasquet pulls out of the tournament due to a knee injury. Memorial Drive had hosted the highest-level of professional tennis since 1922 when Wimbledon champion Gerald Patterson first won at the site in 1922 at the South Australian Championships. In 2007, Tennis Australia announces it is moving the event to Brisbane.

1992 – John McEnroe is selected to the U.S. Davis Cup team for a record 12th time as he, Rick Leach, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi are named to the U.S. team that will face Argentina in the first round in Hawaii. McEnroe is previously tied for the U.S. lead of team selections with Bill Tilden and Stan Smith.

2007 – Jelena Jankovic of Serbia wins the first WTA Tour singles title of the 2007 season, defeating Russia’s Vera Zvonareva 7-6 (11-9), 5-7, 6-3 in the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.

1936 – Hall of Famer member Darlene Hard, winner of 21 major titles including the French in 1960 and the U.S. Championships in 1960 and 1961, is born in Los Angeles. Hard, also a two-time Wimbledon finalist, was a member of victorious U.S. Fed Cup team in the inaugural year of the competition in 1963, teaming with Billie Jean King and Carole Graebner.

On This Day In Tennis History Is Latest Book Release From New Chapter Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Chapter Press has announced the publication of its latest book – On This Day In Tennis History -a calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis through the yearswritten by Randy Walker, the sports marketing and media specialist, tennis historian and former U.S. Tennis Association press officer.

On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, 528 pages), is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as John McEnroe, Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. On This Day In Tennis History is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. More information on the book can be found at www.tennishistorybook.com

Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important-and unusual-moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way-dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “On This Day In Tennis History is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest-and most quirky-moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”

Walker is a writer, tennis historian and freelance publicist and sports marketer. A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.

More information on the book can be found at www.tennistomes.com as well as on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1627089030&ref=name and on myspace at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=428100548

People mentioned in the book include, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Goran Ivanisevic, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Anna Kounikova, Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Martina Hingis, Gustavo Kuerten, Svetlana Kuznetsova, James Blake, Wilmer Allison, Mal Anderson, Arthur Ashe, Juliette Atkinson, Henry “Bunny” Austin, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker, Kark Behr, Pauline Betz, Bjorn Borg, Jean Borotra, John Bromwich, Norman Brookes, Louise Brough, Jacques Brugnon, Butch Buchholz, Don Budge, Maria Bueno, Rosie Casals, Michael Chang, Philippe Chatrier, Dodo Cheney, Henri Cochet, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Jim Courier, Ashley Cooper, Margaret Court, Jack Crawford, Allison Danzig, Dwight Davis, Lottie Dod, John Doeg, Laurence Doherty, Reggie Doherty, Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers, Jaroslav Drobny, Margaret duPont, Francoise Durr, James Dwight, Stefan Edberg, Roy Emerson, Chis Evert, Bob Falkenburg, Neale Fraser, Shirley Fry, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzalez, Evonne Goolagong, Arthur Gore, Steffi Graf, Bitsy Grant, Darlene Hard, Doris Hart, Anne Jones, Gladys Heldman, Slew Hester, Bob Hewitt, Lew Hoad, Harry Hopman, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Joe Hunt, Frank Hunter, Helen Jacobs, Bill Johnston, Perry Jones, Bob Kelleher, Billie Jean King, Jan Kodes, Karel Kozeluh, Jack Kramer, Rene Lacoste, Bill Larned, Art Larsen, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Suzanne Lenglen, George Lott, Gene Mako, Molla Mallory, Hana Mandlikova, Alice Marble, Dan Maskell, Simone Mathieu, Mark McCormack, John McEnroe, Ken McGregor, Kitty Godfree, Chuck McKinley, Maurice McLoughlin, Frew McMillian, Don McNeill, Elisabeth Moore, Angela Mortimer, Gardnar Mulloy, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, John Newcombe, Yannick Noah, Jana Novotna, Betty Nuthall, Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Frank Parker, Gerald Patterson, Budge Patty, Fred Perry, Nicola Pietrangeli, Adrian Quist, Patrick Rafter, Dennis Ralson, Vinnie Richards, Nancy Richey, Cliff Richey, Bobby Riggs, Tony Roche, Mervyn Rose, Ken Rosewall, Elizbeth Ryan, Gabriela Sabatini, Pete Sampras, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Manuel Santana, Dick Savitt, Ted Schroeder, Gene Scott, Richard Sears, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, Frank Shields, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, Fred Stolle, Bill Talbert, Bill Tilden, Tony Trabert, Lesley Turner, Jimmy Van Alen, John Van Ryn, Guillermo Vilas, Ellsworth Vines, Brian Gottfried, Virginia Wade, Holcombe Ward, Watson Washburn, Mal Whitman, Mats Wilander, Tony Wilding, Helen Wills Moody, Sidney Wood, Robert Wrenn, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Todd Woodbridge, Marat Safin, Leslie Allen, Sue Barker, Jonas Bjorkman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Donald Dell, Albert Costa, Mark Cox, Owen Davidson, Pat Cash, Mary Carillo, John Isner, Roscoe Tanner, Vijay Amritraj, Mark Woodforde, Tim Henman, Richard Krajicek, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Cliff Drysdale, Mark Edmondson, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Zina Garrson, Roland Garros, Wojtek Fibak, Tom Gullikson, Andres Gimeno, Vitas Gerulaitis, Fernando Gonzalez, Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Andrea Jaeger, Ivo Karlovic, Richard Krajicek, Petr Korda, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Rick Leach, Iva Majoil, Barry MacKay, Ivan Ljubicic, Cecil Mamiit, David Caldwell, Alex Metreveli, Nicolas Massu, Todd Martin, Gene Mayer, Thomas Muster, Tom Okker, Charlie Pasarell, Mary Pierce, Whitney Reed, Leander Paes, Renee Richards, Helen Sukova, Michael Stich, Betty Stove, Ion Tiriac, Brian Teacher, Wendy Turnbull,  Richards, Fabrice Santoro, Ai Sugiyama, Patrick McEnroe, Camille Pin, Phil Dent, Jelena Dokic, Mark Edmondson, Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse, Dinara Safina, Barry Lorge, Stefano Pescosolido, Fabrice Santoro, Roscoe Tanner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Smith, Erik van Dillen, Gene Mayer, Tamara Pasek, Stefan Koubek, Jie Zheng, Gisela Dulko, Kristian Pless, Chuck McKinley, Marty Riessen, Brad Gilbert, Tim Mayotte, Andrea Petkovic, Klara Koukalova, Bobby Reynolds, Dominik Hrbaty, Andreas Seppi, Christopher Clarey, Casey Dellacqua, Anders Jarryd, Janko Tipsarevic, Nadia Petrova, Christian Bergstrom, Ramesh Krishnan, Emily Sanchez, Marcos Baghdatis, Mark Philippousssis, Wally Masur, Paul McNamee, Daniela Hantuchova, Gerry Armstrong, Younes El Aynaoui, Thomas Johansson, Pat Cash, Lisa Raymond, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Chanda Rubin, Tony Roche, Alex O’Brien, Petr Korda, Karol Kucera, Amelie Mauresmo, Juan Gisbert, Pablo Cuevas, Jim Pugh, Rick Leach, Julien Boutter, Larry Stefanki, Chris Woodruff, Jill Craybas, Sania Mirza, Mike Leach, Maggie Maleeva, Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Donald Young, Dick Stockton, Johan Kriek, Milan Srejber, Zina Garrison, Slyvia Hanika, Karin Knapp, Laura Granville, Kei Nishikori, Scott Davis, Paul Goldstein, Alberto Martin, Nicolas Kiefer, Joachim Johansson, Jonathan Stark, Jakob Hlasek, Jeff Tarango, Amanda Coetzer, Andres Gomez, Richey Reneberg, Francisco Clavet, Radek Stepanek, Miloslav Mecir, Jose-Luis Clerc, Colin Dibley, Mikael Pernfors, Martin Mulligan,  Robbie Weiss,  Hugo Chapacu, Victor Pecci, Charlie Bricker, Greg Rusedski, Robin Finn, Kimiko Date, David Nalbandian, Goran Ivanisevic, Mikhail Youzhny, Nicole Pratt, Bryanne Stewart, Novak Djokovic, Rennae Stubbs, Corina Morariu, Marc Rosset, Kenneth Carlsen, Kimiko Date, Ryan Harrison, Richard Gasquet, Jimmy Arias, Jim Leohr, Felix Mantilla, Cedric Pioline, Annabel Croft, Brooke Shields, Jaime Yzaga, Slobodan Zivojinovic, Alberto Mancini, Peter McNamara, Andrei Chesnokov, Fabrice Santoro, Bud Collins, Mardy Fish, Sebastien Grosjean, Donald Dell, Petr Kuczak, Magnus Norman, Hicham Arazi, Nduka Odizor, Lori McNeil, Horst Skoff, Karolina Sprem, Ros Fairbank, Linda Siegel, Chris Lewis, Kevin Curren, Thierry Tulasne, Guy Forget, Fred Tupper, Jaime Fillol, Belus Prajoux, Ricardo Cano, Georges Goven, Ray Moore, Charlie Pasarell, Paul Annacone, Tomas Smid, Dmitry Tursunov, Elena Dementieva, Arnaud DiPasquale, Carl Uwe Steeb, Bill Scanlon, Jose Higueras, Jay Berger, Jana Novotna, Bill Dwyre, Lisa Dillman, Sean Sorensen, Paul McNamee, Jiri Novak, Benjamin Becker, Ion Tiriac, Neil Amdur, Tim Gullikson, Jan-Michael Gambill, Taylor Dent, Bryan Shelton, Vijay Amritraj, Martin Verkerk, Brian Gottfried, Carlos Moya, Jacco Eltingh, Adriano Panatta, John Feinstein, Aaron Krickstein, Wilhelm Bungert, Derrick Rostagno, Torben Ulrich, Daniel Nestor, Ray Ruffels, Cliff Drysdale, James Reilly, Andy Murray, Leander Paes, Alicia Molik, Barry MacKay among others.

New Chapter Press is also the publisher of The Bud Colins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli and the soon to be released title The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.newchapterpressmedia.com

Twenty-Years Ago? A Golden Slam For Steffi

Can you believe it was 20 years ago when Steffi Graf swept all four major tournaments to win the last “Grand Slam?” Not only was it a “Grand Slam” but a “Golden Slam” as Graf went on to win Olympic gold in women’s singles at the Seoul Games. Bud Collins, the world famous tennis historian, writer, commentator and fashion icon, shares with us an excerpt on Graf’s 1988 year below from his upcoming book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, which right now is being sold for an incredible pre-sale price of 39 Percent off on the on-line retailer Amazon. Go to www.newchapterpressmedia.com for more information and to link to Amazon to take advantage of the great savings.

Steffi Graff

Steffi Graf added the Grand Slam to her resume in 1988, sweeping the championships of Australia, France, Wimbledon and the United States. And Don Budge, the first person to win all four of the world’s major tournaments in one season, witnessed each of her conquests. While the West German prodigy expressed mostly relief, the courtly American seemed enormously pleased with Graf’s Slam-clinching, U.S. Open victory over Gabriela Sabatini.

In welcoming Graf to the most exclusive club in tennis, Budge, who’d accomplished his Grand Slam 50 years earlier, whispered into her ear during the award ceremonies at Flushing Meadows. “He said he knew it all the way,” she recalled later. “He said he thinks I’m going to do it a couple more times.”

Graf would not achieve a second Grand Slam (of the five persons who have claimed the four major titles within a calendar year, only Rod Laver did so twice) but that in no way diminished what she accomplished in 1988. She lost but two sets in her triumphant march, the first to Martina Navratilova in the Wimbledon final and the second to Sabatini. Budge said he expected Graf to capture the Slam after watching her in Australia. At the Wimbledon Ball, he told her, “Steffi, when you win the Grand Slam, I hope they let me present the trophy.”

The U.S. Tennis Association was too conscious of tradition to allow such a radical departure, but Budge was included in the ceremony on the golden anniversary of his achievement. He held one handle of the silver jug while Gordon Jorgensen, the USTA president, held the other. They were surrounded by the Stars and Stripes, the Union Jack, the Tricolor and the Southern Cross.

Clearly, the sport’s dominant player in 1988 was a teen-aged female who followed in the Grand Slam steps of Maureen Connolly (1953) and Margaret Smith Court (1970). In fact, Graf took a few steps beyond by adding the Olympic title to her collection—call it a Golden Slam.
“There’s nothing quite as special as winning a gold medal for your country,” she said after her September triumph on a hard court in Seoul, South Korea.

For the first time since 1924, tennis was returned to the Olympics as a medal sport. The acceptance of tennis as a full-fledged medal sport marked a breakthrough—or official breakdown of amateurism—hardly noticed at the time. The ITF got permission from the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to approve the best players available for the Games if nominated by their countries. That meant out-and-out pros. It changed the complexion of the next Games in 1992 at Barcelona, where the U.S. NBA “Dream Team” took basketball gold, and numerous other declared pros took part. Tennis had led the way, for better or worse.

A slam of sorts was registered in men’s competition as well. But this was national and not individual. As the result of Mats Wilander’s victories at the Australian, French and U.S. championships and Stefan Edberg’s ascendancy at Wimbledon, each of the major events was captured by a Swede. There hadn’t been a male sweep by citizens of one country since Laver ran the table in 1969.

In a season that would stand forth regardless of Graf’s transcendent performance, Wilander also bumped Ivan Lendl from the top spot on the computer. Lendl, slipping from the No. 1 position for the first time in 156 weeks, reached only one Big Four final, at Flushing Meadows. He also surrendered his Masters title, which he had held for three years, to Boris Becker.

Graf, the 6-3, 6-3 golden victor over Sabatini, was the first Olympic women’s singles champion since Helen Wills in 1924. Steffi, lost but three matches all year. Sabatini triumphed twice, beating Graf, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, for the first time after 11 consecutive losses to win Boca Raton in March, and in a semifinal at Amelia Island one month later, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in a tournament won by Navratilova, 6-0, 6-2. Shriver applied the final blemish to Graf’s record, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), in the semifinals of the Virginia Slims Championship, which the 18-year-old Sabatini won for her fourth title of the season, beating Shriver 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

Graf zipped through the Australian without the loss of a set but she was pressed in the final by Evert, playing in her 34th and last major final of her career. But for tennis the match was an unprecedented, schizophrenic, outdoor-indoor title bout made possible by the new stadium’s sliding roof. It was, according to Evert, “the weirdest [final] I ever played.”

Rain suspended the match with Graf ahead, 2-1 in the first. Officials decided to close the roof and, after a 91-minute delay, the outdoor tournament resumed indoors. Graf adapted better to the change, racing to a 6-1, 5-1 lead before Evert steadied herself. She won four of the next five games and came within two points of squaring the match before the German prevailed, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3).

Navratilova won five consecutive tournaments and 29 matches in the U.S. before she was again stopped by Evert at Houston in their 77th meeting, 6-0, 6-4. But Navratilova would win their last three matches—a Wimbledon semifinal, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, and finals in Filderstadt, Germany, 6-2, 6-3 and Chicago, 6-2. 6-2—raising her record in the enduring, 80-match rivalry to a concluded 43-37. Their global warfare, concussive but caring, began in Ohio in 1973 and ceased 15 years later in Chicago, touching down in several countries along the way.

Any semblance of competition at the French vanished when third-seeded Evert was dismissed in the third round by future champ, 16-year-old Arantxa Sanchez of Spain, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), and second-seeded Navratilova was surprised by 13th-seeded Zvereva in the round of 16, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5). Zvereva then upset sixth-seeded Sukova, 6-2, 6-3. Next the coltish 17-year-old from Minsk outlasted unseeded Australian Nicole Provis in two hours, six minutes, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 7-5 to land in her only major final.

Graf, who had beaten Sabatini in the semifinals, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), was brutally efficient against her star-struck opponent. Her 6-0, 6-0, romp lasted only 32 minutes, the most exciting feature of which was an hour rain delay. There hadn’t been such a one-sided major tournament championship match since 1911 when Dorothea Chambers rang up two goose eggs over Dora Boothby in an all-English Wimbledon final. Navratilova added another major, keeping the doubles with Shriver, 6-2, 7-5, over Kohde-Kilsch and Sukova.

It was Wimbledon, of course, that loomed as the biggest obstacle to a Steffi Slam. Wimbledon was the seat of Navratilova’s power. “Wimbledon is the last thing she’s holding onto, the last thing she dominates in women’s tennis,” Shriver said. The naturalized American was in position to surpass the record for most singles championships at the All England Club and she prepared in her usual fashion, winning at Eastbourne against Zvereva, 6-2, 6-2. But Navratilova was less than commanding once the tournament got underway. She struggled both in the quarterfinals and semifinals, edging Ros Fairbank, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, and Evert, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5. Indeed, after holding out through three match points in their 78th meeting, Evert picked Graf to win.

Graf appeared jumpy in the first set, serving below her standard and committing a bundle of unforced errors. Navratilova had raced to a 7-5, 2-0 lead and appeared well on her way to another glorious moment. Then Graf broke Navratilova’s second service of the second set. Remarkably, the defending champion would not hold service again in the match. Graf allowed Navratilova only one more game and the only delay in a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 triumph was caused by rain after four games of the third set.

“I hit good volleys,” Navratilova reasoned. “I hit good balls that other people wouldn’t get to, and then she hits winners. I didn’t succumb to pressure today. I succumbed to a better player … I still played pretty damn well, but she was hitting winners all over the place.” Steffi had stolen seemingly sure Navratilova points with her legs.

And so ended one phase of Martina’s pursuit of Helen Wills Moody, who won a record 50 consecutive matches while capturing eight Wimbledon singles title. Graf snipped Martina’s match streak at 47, but the loser would get that ninth title two years down the road.

Graf was only one title away from an achievement that had eluded Navratilova in her prime. She even teamed with Sabatini to win the Wimbledon doubles championship, defeating the Soviet pairing of Zvereva and Larisa Savchenko, 6-3, 1-6, 12-10. The Soviets stopped defending champs Navratilova and Shriver in the third round, 7-6, 6-2.

Fittingly, the only genuine competition Graf faced at the U.S. Open was contemporary in nature. Having failed to derail her at Wimbledon, Navratilova lost any opportunity at Flushing Meadows when she was ousted in an exciting quarterfinal by Garrison, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, her first win over Martina in 22 starts. Evert, recently married to former Olympic skier Andy Mill, earned a chance to thwart the Grand Slam but had to withdraw on the day of the semis with a stomach virus that left her so weak she could barely get out of bed.

That left Sabatini, Graf’s doubles partner and the person responsible for the “2” in Graf’s 61-2 record at that point. Sabatini defeated Garrison in their semi, 6-4, 7-5, and became the first Argentine to qualify for a major women’s final. In the end, although Sabatini did extend “Fraulein Forehand” to a third set, Graf added the U.S. title to her necklace of jewels with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory.

After the victory, Graf seemed more relieved than thrilled. She didn’t jump for joy or kneel in supplication. Graf merely jogged to the stands to embrace her family and she barely smiled during the award ceremony. “Now I’ve done it,” she said. “There’s no more pressure.”

Steffi didn’t have much time to savor the moment.

The Olympic tournament was scheduled to begin in a week. Naturally, Graf was seeded No. 1. Naturally, she won. In the final, she again bested Sabatini, this time by the definitive score of 6-3, 6-3.


Australian Open

Men’s Singles Final: Mats Wilander (SWE) def. Pat Cash (AUS), 6-3, 6-7 (3), 3-6, 6-1, 8-6

Women’s Singles Final: Steffi Graf (GER) def. Chris Evert (USA), 6-1, 7-6 (3)

Men’s Doubles Final: Rick Leach and Jim Pugh (USA) def. Jeremy Bates (GBR) and Peter Lundgren (SWE), 6-3, 6-2, 6-3

Women’s Doubles Final: Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver (USA) def. Chris Evert (USA) and Wendy Turnbull (AUS), 6-0, 7-5

Mixed Doubles Final: Jana Novotna (CZE) and Jim Pugh (USA) def. Martina Navratilova and Tim Gullikson (USA), 5-7, 6-2, 6-4

French Open

Men’s Singles Final: Mats Wilander (SWE) def. Henri Leconte (FRA), 7-5, 6-2, 6-1

Women’s Singles Final: Steffi Graf (GER) def. Natalia Zvereva (USSR), 6-0, 6-0

Men’s Doubles Final: Andres Gomez (ECU) and Emilio Sanchez (ESP) def. John Fitzgerald (AUS) and Anders Jarryd (SWE), 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-3

Women’s Doubles Final: Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver (USA) def. Claudia Kohde-Kilsch (GER) and Helena Sukova (CZE), 6-2, 7-5

Mixed Doubles Final: Lori McNeil (USA) and Jorge Lozano (MEX) def. Brenda Schultz and Michael Schapers (NED), 7-5, 6-2

Men’s Singles Final: Stefan Edberg (SWE) def. Boris Becker (GER), 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-2

Women’s Singles Final: Steffi Graf (GER) def. Martina Navratilova (USA), 5-7, 6-2, 6-1

Men’s Doubles Final: Ken Flach and Robert Seguso (USA) def. John Fitzgerald (AUS) and Anders Jarryd (SWE), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3)

Women’s Doubles Final: Steffi Graf (GER) and Gabriela Sabatini (ARG), Larisa Savachenko and Natalia Zvereva (USSR), 6-3, 1-6, 12-10

Mixed Doubles Final: Zina Garrison and Sherwood Stewart (USA) def. Gretchen Rush Magers and Kelly Jones (USA), 6-1, 7-6 (3)
U.S. Open

Men’s Singles Final: Mats Wilander (SWE) def. Ivan Lendl (CZE), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4

Women’s Singles Final: Steffi Graf (GER) def. Gabriela Sabatini (ARG), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

Men’s Doubles Final: Sergio Casal and Emilio Sanchez (ESP) def. Rick Leach and Jim Pugh (USA), walkover

Women’s Doubles Final: Gigi Fernandez and Robin White (USA) def. Patty Fendick (USA) and Jill Hetherington (CAN), 6-4, 6-1

Mixed Doubles Final: Jana Novotna (CZE) and Jim Pugh (USA) def. Elizabeth Sayers Smylie (AUS) and Patrick McEnroe (USA), 7-5, 6-3

On This Day In Tennis History

The following are events that happened this week in the history of tennis. Look for the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY, A DAY BY DAY ANTHOLOGY OF HISTORICAL HAPPENINGS (New Chapter Press, 19.95, www.newchapterpressmedia.com ) by Randy Walker due out in bookstores later this year.

January 29

1891 – U.S. Davis Cup player Richard Williams, who survived the sinking of The Titantic and went on to win two U.S. singles titles in 1914 and 1916, is born in Geneva, Switzerland.

1989 – Ivan Lendl wins his first Australian Open singles title and his seventh career Grand Slam singles title, defeating fellow Czech Miloslav Mecir 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in the men’s singles final. The win guarantees that Lendl will overtake Mats Wilander as the No. 1 player in the world. In women’s doubles, the top-seeded team of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver win their seventh Australian Open women’s doubles title with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Patty Fendick and Jill Hetherington. Shriver and Navratilova’s victory was their 20th Grand Slam doubles title.

1994 – Steffi Graf easily defeats Aranxta Sanchez Vicario 6-0, 6-2 in 57 minutes in the women’s singles final at the Australian Open.

1995 – Andre Agassi wins his first Australian Open title, defeating and dethroning top-ranked Pete Sampras 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-4 in the men’s singles final. The win is the second straight Grand Slam singles title for Agassi after his US Open triumph in 1994. ”I came here believing in myself, believing that I could win,” said Agassi. “”It was the first time I ever came into a Grand Slam believing like that. And now, I’m not worried about winning all of them, I worry about winning each one.” “I don’t know how much room there is for improvement,” Sampras said of Agassi. “If he stays fit, he’s a threat to win every single major title of the year.”
2003 – Former world number one Marat Safin of Russia ends Andre Agassi’s five-year winning streak at the Australian Open with a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (6), 5-7, 1-6, 6-3 win the men’s semifinals. “I don’t have the words to describe what I’m feeling right now,” said Safin. “To be on the same court as Andre Agassi and to win in five sets after he came back from 2-0 down, it’s great.” “I came here to try and win it and I’m almost there. I have one match left to go. Everything is going my way.” In the women’s semifinals, Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium defeated Colombia’s 32nd seed Fabiola Zuluaga 6-2, 6-2, while Kim Clijsters of Belgium, defeated Patty Schnyder of Switzerland 6-2, 7-6 (2).

2005 – Serena Williams wins her seventh Grand Slam singles title, defeating Lindsay Davenport 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the women’s singles final at the Australian Open. Williams win is her first grand slam since victory in the 2003 Wimbledon final. Said Williams of the suggestion that her career was in decline, “It is a very fashionable way to decline…It’s that much sweeter because people are always wondering about what’s happening to us. “It’s been a long way coming back. But I’m almost to my goal, and it feels great. “

2006 – Federer gets emotional, cries and hugs all-time great Rod Laver during the post-match ceremony following his 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 win over upstart Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the final of the Australian Open. Federer has difficulty putting to words the emotions he feels during the post-match ceremony and sobs after receiving the trophy from Laver. “I hope you know how much this means to me,” he said as he wiped away tears. Federer becomes the first player to win three consecutive Grand Slam tournaments since Pete Sampras won at the 1994 Australian Open. The title is his seventh career Grand Slam title, tying him with John McEnroe, John Newcombe and Mats Wilander.

January 30

1980 – Saying, “I don’t enjoy winning, and I don’t enjoy losing. I just don’t enjoy playing any more.” 25-year-old Chris Evert announces her retirement from professional tennis. However the retirement of “Chrissie” does not last as she returns to professional tennis after only three months. Evert goes on to win nine more Grand Slam titles and officially retires for a final time in 1989.

2000 – The U.S. Davis Cup team arrives in Zimbabwe for its first-ever tie on the African continent. First-year Davis Cup captain John McEnroe spends his first full-day on the ground as U.S. captain by visiting Zimbabwe’s No. 1 tourist attraction Victoria Falls for publicity photos.

2001 – Eighteen-year-old Andy Roddick is named to the U.S. Davis Cup team or the first time in his career as rookie captain Patrick McEnroe chooses the future world No. 1, along with Todd Martin, Jan-Michael Gambill and Justin Gimelstob to the U.S. team to face Switzerland, led by 19-year-old Roger Federer, another future world No. 1

1993 – Nineteen-year-old Monica Seles edges Steffi Graf 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to the women’s singles title at the Australian Open, her eighth Grand Slam singles victory. “I knew I had to run down every ball and never give up,” said Seles.”It was a close match all the way. We both hit the ball so hard you have to concentrate all the time. “I never thought I’d be doing so well in Grand Slams. It’s incredible,” Said Graf, “She really deserved to win today. She just has incredible willpower and confidence. Once she gets in the groove, she just plays every point as hard as she can. That is very difficult because you do not get any easy points or easy games. That is definitely her strength.”

1994 – Pete Sampras wins his third consecutive Grand Slam singles title, slamming 13 aces with speeds as fast as 126 mph in defeating first-time Grand Slam finalist Todd Martin 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-4 at the Australian Open. The top-seeded Sampras became the first man in nearly 30 years to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open consecutively. The only others were Roy Emerson in 1964-65 and Don Budge in 1937-38. “He’s just too good and he really deserves what he’s succeeding at, because he’s really working his butt off,” Martin said of Sampras.

2005 – Five years after winning his first Grand Slam title, Marat Safin wins his elusive second Grand Slam title, defeating native son Lleyton Hewitt 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Australian Open. Safin, the 2000 US Open champion, was finally able to break through and win “Down Under” after having lost in the Australian Open final two times in the last three years. Hewitt was attempting to become the first Australian to win his country’s national championship since Mark Edmonson in 1976. Said Safin, “Today it was a relief for me. Two Grand Slams, it’s already something. One Grand Slam, you can win by mistake, like I did in 2000 US Open, but this one, I’ve worked really hard for that.”

January 31

1992 – Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi register singles victories over Martin Jaite and Alberto Mancini, respectively, as the United States takes a commanding 2-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup by NEC first round in Mauna Lani, Hawaii.

– For the second consecutive year, Jim Courier defeats Stefan Edberg in the men’s singles final at the Australian Open. Courier won his fourth – and eventually what would be his last – Grand Slam singles title, with a 6-2, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 victory.

1998 – Seventeen-year-old Martina Hingis won her fourth major championship, defeating Conchita Martinez 6-3, 6-3 in the women’s singles final at the Australian Open. Hingis would become the young player in 100 years to defend a Grand Slam titles. “To defend the title is much harder than coming here for the first time (when) nobody expected me to win,” said Hingis. “There was so much pressure. . . . This is the hardest Grand Slam I’ve won. There were so many different expectations on me, especially the pressure I put on myself. Everybody told me this year is going to be very hard. I’m proud of myself for what I did the last two weeks.” No player, male or female, had defended a Grand Slam title at a younger age since 16-year-old Charlotte “Lottie” Dod won her second straight Wimbledon in 1888. In the 30-year Open era, Monica Seles was two months older than Hingis when she won her second straight French Open championship in 1991.

– Justine Henin-Hardenne wins her third Grand Slam title defeating fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the women’s singles final at the Australian Open.

1982 – Ivan Lendl defeats Australian Peter McNamara 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to win the $100,000 prize in the WCT Gold Coast Cup tennis tournament in a grueling match that lasted three hours and seven minutes in high winds.

1982 – Martina Navratilova defeats Wendy Turnbull 6-4, 6-1 in 53 minutes to win the Chicago women’s tennis championship. “Once I got rolling, things went my way, although it was never easy,” said Navratilova. “Wendy doesn’t threaten me that much. She doesn’t have that strong of a serve.”

– John McEnroe defeats Jimmy Connors 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in the final of the U.S. Pro Indoor Championships in Philadelphia.

February 1

– John McEnroe and Rick Leach defeat Javier Frana and Christian Miniussi 6-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 to give the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup by NEC first round in Mauna Lani, Hawaii.

1998 – At the age of 30, Petr Korda wins his first Grand Slam singles championship, defeating 22-year-old Marcelo Rios of Chile 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in 85 minutes in the men’s singles final of the Australian Open. Korda knocked 32 winners passed Rios in becoming the oldest man to win a Grand Slam title since Andres Gomez, a few months older, won the 1990 French Open. “The Korda Kick” became the fad in tennis as Korda’s victories and winning shots were celebrated with scissor-kick type leaps. “I was waiting for this a long, long time,” Korda told the crowd. “”It’s been such a long ride,” he said. “It’s fantastic. I got to the last stop. I feel I’m on top of the world at the moment … I just put all the pieces together for this tournament. It was really a very enjoyable ride for me.”

2004 – Roger Federer won his first Australian Open crown, his second career Grand Slam singles title and clinched the world’s No. 1 ranking with a 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-2 win over Marat Safin in the men’s singles final at the Australian Open. “What a great start to the year for me, to win the Australian Open and become No. 1 in the world,” Federer said. “To fulfill my dreams, it really means very much to me.”

– The comeback attempt by former world No. 1 Martina Hingis stalls in Pattaya, Thailand as she is defeated by Germany’s Marlene Weingartner 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the Volvo Women’s Open. Hingis, who won five Grand Slam singles titles, was competing in her first WTA Tour event since October of 2002.

February 2

1889 – The United States Lawn Tennis Association officially accepts “lady” lawn tennis players as members.

1992 – Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi defeat Alberto Mancini and Martin Jaite, respectively, to complete a 5-0 shutout of Argentina in the Davis Cup by NEC first round in Mauna Lani, Hawaii.

1945 – American Davis Cupper and 1943 U.S. Champion Joseph Hunt dies as his Navy fighter plane crashes in the ocean off Florida. Hunt, 26, the highest regarded American player to die in the war, had been expected to shine in the peacetime game.

1982– Still distraught over the shooting death of friend and fellow tennis player Andrea Buchanan, tennis legend Billie Jean King walks off the court in the third set of her first round match against Ann Kiyomura at the Avon Championships of Detroit. “Emotionally, I was not up to my game and I could not concentrate on hitting the ball,” said King after the 3-6, 6-3, 1-0, retire loss. “I apologize for my behaviour. It was not professional.”

1966 – Andrei Chesnokov, 1989 semifinalist at the French Open and Russian Davis Cup hero, is born in Moscow.

– Roger Federer becomes the No. 1 player in the world for the first time in his career, replacing Andy Roddick in the top ranking on the ATP computer. Federer has held the ranking ever since!

2007 – Chilean Nicolas Massu comes back from a 0-6, 2-5 deficit and saves eight match points in defeating Sergio Roitman of Argentina in the quarterfinals of the Movistar Open in Vina del Mar, Chile. Massu benefits when Roitman finally retires with a left thigh injury after Massu wins the second-set tie-break 7-3.

February 3

1947 – President Harry Truman conducts the Davis Cup draw at the White House, joining U.S. President Calvin Coolidge as the only U.S Presidents to conduct the Davis Cup draw. Says Truman during the proceedings, “I hope the time will come when we can settle our international differences in courts, just as we settle our tennis differences on a court.”

1990 – Rick Leach and Jim Pugh make their Davis Cup debuts and defeat Leonardo Lavalle and Jorge Lozano 6-4, 6-7, 7-5, 6-1 to clinch the 4-0 victory over Mexico in the Davis Cup by NEC first round in Carlsbad, Calif.

1989 – Sixteen-year-old Michael Chang makes his Davis Cup by NEC debut defeating Victor Pecci 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 helping the United States to a 2-0 lead over Paraguay in the Davis Cup by NEC first round in Ft. Myers, Fla. Chang also becomes the first American to play a Davis Cup tie-break in the first set of his match with Pecci. The tie-break is formally introduced to Davis Cup play (except in the fifth set) beginning in the 1989 Davis Cup season. Chang is also the second youngest player to play Davis Cup for the United States at this tie at the age of sixteen years, 11 months and 12 days.

2000 – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe presides over the draw ceremony for the USA vs. Zimbabwe Davis Cup first round tie in Harare, Zimbabwe.

February 4

1990 – Brad Gilbert defeats Jorge Lozano 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to complete a 4-0 sweep of Mexico in the Davis Cup by NEC first round at Carlsbad, Calif.

1989 – Ken Flach and Robert Seguso give the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Paraguay, defeating Victor Pecci and Francisco Gonzalez 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 in the Davis Cup by NEC first round in Ft. Myers, Fla.

2000 – John McEnroe makes his debut as U.S. Davis Cup captain in Harare, Zimbabwe as the United States and Zimbabwe split the first matches in their first round tie. Andre Agassi defeats Wayne Black 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 and Chris Woodruff, in his Davis Cup debut, loses to Byron Black 7-6, 6-3, 6-2.

2001 – Lindsay Davenport of Newport Beach, Calif., wins her 31st career singles title when she defeats world No. 1 Martina Hingis of Switzerland, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2, in the final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Davenport improved to 13-10 overall against Hingis, including a 10-6 head-to-head advantage in tournament finals.

– Martina Hingis upsets Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-1 to reach the first WTA Tour final of her comeback at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

1979 – In his first tournament of the year, Bjorn Borg breaks the serve of Guillermo Vilas seven out of eight times, and wins the WCT tournament title in Richmond, Va., with a 6-3, 6-1 victory of the Argentine in the men’s singles final.

2001 – Federer, at age 19, wins the first ATP title of his career, defeating Julien Boutter of France 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 in Milan, Italy. “What a relief,” he said after the match. “I’m really happy to have won my first title here in Milan. As a kid you always dream of winning your first title.”