Arantxa Sanchez Roland Garros 1989

From Love Thirty, three decades of champions – published in 1990

In order of seniority the leaders of the new generation, other than Graf, are Sabatini, Zvereva, Mary Joe Fernandez, Sanchez, Martinez, Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati. All were born between 1970 and 1976.
In terms of tennis, physique, and character, they are poised at an intermediate stage of development. Consequently it would be futile to speculate about which is likely to give Graf most cause for concern in the next few years. The only point one will make is that in 1989, her fist year on the grand slam circuit, the 15-year-old Seles provided the most spectacular evidence of star quality.

From 1985 to 1988 Graf’s obvious contemporary rival was Sabatini, who occasionally beat her but could never manage to do sp on the big occasions. Dark, glamorous, and immensely marketable in promoting a variety of commercial products, Sabatini became a millionairess without winning anything of shattering importance. On the other hand she was a consistently prominent teenager and made two dents in the game’s history: by becoming the youngest French semi-finalist (in 1985, at the age of 15) and the first player from Argentina to reach the women’s singles final of a Grand Slam tournament (at Flushing Meadow in 1988). At 5ft 8in she is, like Graf, ideally built for women’s tennis but has to work hard to counter a tendency towards languor. Her game features heavy top-spin on both flanks – tiring for her but even more tiring for her opponents – and from time to time she lets fly with a fierce backhand down the line, one of the most dazzling shots in the modern women’s game.

Zvereva, from Minsk, is almost a year younger but, on the evidence so far available, is a smarter and slightly more versatile competitor: and the best player to emerge from the Soviet Union since Olga Morozova almost 20 years earlier. In 1988 Zvereva beat both Navratilova and Helena Sukova in straight sets on her way to the French final but, overawed and overpowered, could take only 13 points from Graf in an embarrassing 32-minute match.
Fernandez, who was born in the Dominican Republic but lives in Miami, is a baseliner in the Chris Evert mould. In 1985, at the age of 14, she became the youngest player to win a match in the US Open and nine months later she advanced to the last eight in Paris. In 1989 she had to miss her high school graduation ceremony because, in Paris, she had reached a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time.
Martinez, four months younger than Sanchez, is bigger and in many respects potentially better than her springy little compatriot. In 1988 Martinez joined the circuit and also beat Sanchez to win the Spanish national championship. In 1989 Grand Slam events it took either Graf or Sabatini to beat her.
Seles, too, has an unusual backgound for a tennis player: Novi Sad in Yugoslavia, though she lives in Florida and comes across as a typically outgoing American teenager. In 1989 she rang the alarm bells by beating Evert in Houston and then reached the semi-finals in Paris and the last 16 at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadow. Seles serves left-handed and hits her two-fisted ground strokes so hard that one almost expects smoke to rise from the court whenever she plays. She basks in the limelight as if born to it, plays to the gallery, gunts with effort as she explodes into her shots, and has an inimitably engaging giggle that sounds like a muted but busy machine-gun. A great entertainer – and clearly a champion in the making if her body can withstand the strain she puts on it.
But Seles, precocious though she is, must look out for another Florida-based prodigy, Capriati, who is two years and three months younger. Capriati plays a more conventional game, awfully well, and under her father’s guidance has begun to benefit from the modern science of physical conditioning at a younger age than the likes of Margaret Court and Navratilova did.

Which leaves us in the delightful company of the chubby and cheerful Sanchez, who never reached the semi-finalof a Grand Slam event until she had the sauce to beat Graf 7-6 3-6 7-5 in the 1989 French Open final. The match lasted two hours and 58 minutes, which meant that Graf was playing the longest match of her career when she was not at her peak. In boxing parlance, Graf punched herself out. She was forced to play too many shots. But she had two set points in the first set (her backhand let her down) and led 5-3 in the third, only to lose 13 of the next 14 points. At 5-6 down in the third set the pallid Graf had to dash to the dressing room because of stomach cramps and at 30-all in the next game she hurried to her chair for a quick drink. But what made her feel ill was, more than anything else, the fact that she spent far too long clobbering a punchbag with a mind of its own.

Sanchez was quick in her anticipation and footwork, inexhaustible in her energy and fighting spirit, and boldly resourceful in seizing chances to take the ball early and hit blazing ripostes. Gasping with effort, she bounced about the court like a pintable ball fresh off the starting spring, and kept rallies going long after Graf’s assault should, logically, have ended them.
Towards the end Sanchez even began to fancy her chances as a volleyer – and did rather well in that unfamiliar role. She had an engaging swagger, a ready smile, and the air of a dishevelled, overworked waitress with a knack of keeping all the customers happy. Sanchez had the time of her life, grew Graf’s sting, and at the end of the match tumbled on to the court like a romping puppy and bounced up with clay-spattered clothes and a broad grin. It had been a great lark.

The popular little champion went back to Barcelona and more public acclaim, more bouquets, and met King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia. How marvellously she had built on the confidence gained in Rome, where she had reached the final, and on the inspiring example of Michael Chang, who expanded her horizons in Paris when he beat the top men’s seed, Ivan Lendl.

Sanchez kept it up too, reaching the last eight at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadow before Graf and Sabatini in turn arrested her progress. Her Wimbledon performance was embellished by a brillantly cheeky drop-shot when she was match point down to Raffaella Reggi. Thus it was that a bubbly lass with a sunny disposition had four dream-like months in the summer of her 18th year. If she has anything to teach her contemporaries it lies in the fun she has playing tennis and the fact that she never gives up on a point. But one suspect that because of her background, build, and playing method, she may excel only on clay.

The stocky Sanchez is about 5ft 6in tall. Spaniards are traditionally attuned to clay and Sanchez has sharpened her game in the company of two older brothers, Emilio and Javier, who made their mark on the professional tour while she was still advancing towards its fringe. It is no discredit to either that they cannot match their sister’s joyously boisterous approach to tennis and to life.

Last Sunday in Miami, Martina Hingis captured her 38th doubles title, her first. 17 years ago in Miami she was crowned the new Queen of tennis. Between those two dates? Lots of highs and lows, trophies and retirements.

Summary of an article published in French sports daily L’Equipe, translated by Tennis Buzz:

By sweeping Monica Seles in final at Key Biscayne 6-2 6-1 in only 44 minutes, Martina Hingis reached the number one ranking at age 16 1/2. A record of precocity that still stands to this day.
Surpassed in all areas of the game, Monica Seles didn’t know how to counter Martina Hingis’ tactical intelligence. The stronger she hit the ball, the quicker it came back at her.

Despite her precocity, her accession to the top was ineluctable, scheduled a long time ago. Scheduled since her birth on September 30, 1980 in Kosice in the then Czechoslovakia? Perhaps not, but her mother Melanie Molitor put a lot of effort for her daughter to succeed. This former good player named her daughter Martina in honor of Martina Navratilova and put her on tennis courts at the age of 3. Two years later she entered her first tournament and in 1987 mother and daughter exiled in Switzerland.

Her progress and exceptional talent attracted agents, sponsors and medias and she hasn’t deceived them. She became junior world champion in 1994 and turned pro the same year.
Her arrival on the circuit at such an early age was criticized by many people who feared Hingis would follow the same path as troubled teen prodigy Jennifer Capriati.

In 1996, Hingis reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and the semifinals at the US Open (loss to Graf 5-7 3-6) and finished her season with another loss to Steffi Graf in the Masters final at Madison Garden 0-6 in the fifth set.
1997 was her biggest year (71 wins, 5 defeats). She captured her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne against Mary Pierce and also won in Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, Key Biscayne and Hilton Head. And just before the clay court tournament in Hamburg she fell off a horse. Injured, she didn’t play any clay court tournament before Roland Garros, where she lost the final to Iva Majoli.
She then won at Wimbledon (victory over Jana Novotna 2-6 6-3 6-3) and the US Open (victory over Venus Williams 6-0 6-4).
Even though she won two more Grand Slam titles after this fantastic 1997 season (Australian Open in 1998 and 1999), the Swiss was no longer as dominant when approaching the 2000s.
Overpowered by the Williams sisters and bothered by recurring injuries, she dropped out of the top 10 at the end of 2002, for the first time since 1995. She announced her retirement in May 2003, at only 22, after 209 weeks at the top ranking.

She came back in 2006, reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros but in 2007 she tested positive to cocaine at Wimbledon. Suspended for two years by the ITF, she retired again.
Since then she came back to the courts to coach or play a few doubles tournaments, but she was also often on the front page of gossip magazines.

Risk tennis a lost art form

Earlier this year I wrote an article about the pace of indoor surfaces and the demise of indoor carpet on the ATP and WTA tours. (see article here) Quick indoor carpet has been completely phased out in favour of medium paced indoor hardcourts based on the plexicushion surface. The slowing down in surfaces has led to a convergence in style of play and allowed defensive minded players to get to the very top of the game and stay there.

Recently Roger Federer called for surfaces to speeded up once again “It’s an easy fix. Just make quicker courts, then it’s hard to defend,” Federer said. “Attacking style is more important. It’s only on this type of slow courts that you can defend the way we are all doing right now.”

Roger Federer

When I spoke to the ATP spokesman back in February, he clearly gave the view the surfaces were slowed down and carpet phased out because there were too many complaints that the big serve was dominating tennis. That is a pity because my article clearly dispelled the myth that faster surfaces were only dominated by big servers, I pointed out that many baseliners loved the quicker surfaces.

Players like Ivan Lendl won over 30 tournaments on indoor carpet, much more tournaments on one surface than most players win in an entire career. Lendl won 5 year end Masters titles (ATP World Tour) and played in 8 straight finals between 1982 and 1989. Also Lendl won these titles against the likes of John McEnroe, Boris Becker, and Stefan Edberg.

Monica Seles was another player who excelled on indoor carpet, and yet both she and Lendl won multiple titles at the French Open, the slowest surface on tour. Martina Hingis also excelled on indoor carpet. In the mens game, Andre Agassi, Gustavo Kuerten, Lleyton Hewitt and Alex Corretja won the year end championships indoors whilst Jim Courier played in finals in 1991 and 1992 and Michael Chang in 1995.
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2011 US OPEN TENNIS TOURNAMENT   /     ROGER FEDERER       -     Arthur Ashe Stadium Court, Flushing  NYC      -      09/03/11

All US Open 2012 posts are tagged US Open and are listed up below:

10 tips for your day at the US Open
US Open trivia

Fashion and gear:

adidas players outfits
Andy Murray adidas outfit
Ana Ivanovic adidas outfit
Fernando Verdasco adidas outfit
Maria Kirilenko adidas outfit
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga adidas outfit
Caroline Wozniacki adidas outfit
Kim Clijsters Fila outfit
Roger Federer Nike outfit
Maria Sharapova Nike outfit
Serena Williams Nike outfit
Victoria Azarenka Nike outfit
Petra Kvitova Nike outfit
Li Na Nike outfit
Sam Stosur asics outfit
Novak Djokovic Uniqlo outfit

A trip down memory lane:

Top 5 strange events at the US Open
US Open biggest upsets
1970 US Open: Margaret Court completes the Grand Slam
1971 US Open: Chris Evert becomes the “It Girl”
79 US Open 2nd round: McEnroe vs Nastase, chaos on court
1979 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Vitas Gerulaitis
1980 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg
1981 US Open: Tracy Austin defeats Martina Navratilova
1981 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg: Borg’s last Grand Slam match
Back in 1990: Sabatini and Sampras win their first GS title: part 1part 2
1991 US Open: Connors, 39 qualifies for the semifinals
1991 US Open: Seles and Capriati introduce power in womens tennis
1991 US Open: Stefan Edberg defeats Jim Courier
1992: Stefan Edberg defeats Pete Sampras
1994 US Open 4th round: Jaime Yzaga defeats Pete Sampras
2000 US Open: Marat Safin defeats Pete Sampras
2001 US Open: Venus defeats sister Serena
2001 US Open QF: Andre Agassi – Pete Sampras
2001 US Open: Lleyton Hewitt defeats Pete Sampras
2002 US Open: last Grand Slam title for Pete Sampras
2003 US Open: Roddick wins his first (and only) Grand Slam title
2004 US Open: First time to NYC for a French fan of Agassi
Andre Agassi gives the Open crowd one more thrill ride, August 31st, 2006
2011 US Open by the numbers

Recap and analysis:

Tennis’ Big Three at the US Open
The 2012 US Open favorites and their racquet
First week recap

Polls:

Who will win the 2012 US Open?

  • Roger Federer (39%, 73 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (29%, 54 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (23%, 42 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (4%, 7 Votes)
  • Juan Martin del Potro (3%, 5 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Other (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1%, 1 Votes)
  • John Isner (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 186

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Who will win the 2012 US Open?

  • Serena Williams (35%, 39 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (23%, 25 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (14%, 15 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (11%, 12 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (6%, 7 Votes)
  • Other (5%, 5 Votes)
  • Kim Clijsters (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Sam Stosur (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 111

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If like me, you used to watch tennis in late 80’s early 90’s, you are familiar with Arantxa Sanchez family. Her mother Marisa, in particular, was a permanent fixture in the player’s box at tournaments around the world.
Arantxa’s family appeared to be perfectly normal, much more than the one of her two biggest rivals: Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. At least it seems, until recently.

My parents’ behavior has caused me a lot of suffering. In recent months, I have been through such difficult situations that there are still moments when I think I’m in a nightmare. What’s certain is that my relationship with my family doesn’t exist. How is it possible that everything I’ve obtained has disappeared, has ceased to be?

In her autobiography Vamos, Memorias da una lucha, una vida y una mujer,Arantxa Sanchez says her parents left her broke and that she has no relationships with anyone in her family, including her two former pro player brothers, Emilio and Javier.

Of course I had heard all those rumors surrounding her marriage to businessman Jose Santacana, but I really didn’t see that coming.

They’ve left me with nothing. I’m in debt to the (Spanish equivalent of the) IRS (she was condemned to pay €3.5 million in fines for paying taxes to Andorra while living in Spain), and my properties are very inferior to those of my brother Javier, for example, who has won much less than me over the course of his life.”

During her 17-year career Arantxa captured 4 Grand Slam singles titles, reached the number one ranking in both singles and doubles, and won about $17 million in prize money. The sponsorships she had during that time elevated her income to some $59 million by her count.
According to El Pais, sources knowledgeable of the tennis world and her family are surprised by the insinuation of bankruptcy (“She has a boat, houses…”) and the elevated figure of her earnings: there are high taxes on tournament prizes (up to 35%), and Arantxa did not enjoy a large advertisement contract outside the tennis world.

I never doubted how my father managed my money. Today I am out of resources (…) I am the victim and the deceived.

Arantxa, according to the book, was a girl who robbed a motorcycle to escape the tennis academy in which she was training. An adolescent whose her parents wanted her to go to bed early and leave her own birthday party. A champion weighed down by her “faithful shadow”, her mother – “for her, discipline and victory went before anything else, when sometimes what I needed most were caring words…I ended up doubting my self-worth and looking for help from psychologists to recover my self-esteem.”

The good old days: Arantxa Sanchez, sister Marisa and brothers Emilio and Javier

Arantxa with her parents Marisa and Emilio after her Roland Garros victory in 1994:

Of course, it didn’t take long for Arantxa’s mother to issue a statement in which she explains her daughter’s book was a total surprise to her. She also emphasises the cancer suffered by Arantxa’s father and the sacrifices they made for their daughter’s career.

For twenty years we lived for her. We put everything aside. We mortgaged our lives and our marriage. I travelled with her since she was a little girl. In fact, I left my husband and my other children to do so. After that, my husband left his job and came along with us so he could help her. We tried our best. We obviously failed. She was the one who received the most from us and now it turns out that -after turning forty- all the bad stuff that is happening to her is our fault. She accuses us of leaving her in bankrupt, of taking everything away from her, with the bitterness and resentment that one could only expect from the worst of the enemies.
I will not go into details. We will wait until the book is published and, much to our regret, we will carefully read it. Once it is done, it will be the time for me (and in my husband’s name) or our lawyers to give an appopriate reply to the false accusations we are undergoing. And, of course, it will be obvious that we have never taken advantage of Arantxa and that, indeed, she’s not ruined.

Sources: El Pais, Typically Spanish