This Time, Mandlikova Is No Match for Graf, 6-0, 6-1

If this had been played at Boston Garden, the crowd would have booed and demanded a full refund.

At Madison Square Garden? Things might have gotten downright dangerous.

And at the Forum, even the typical L.A. fans would have hooted and hollered.

There was no fear of that happening at Grand Champions, however. This isn't Boston, New York or Los Angeles. So, subsequently, Steffi Graf's 6-0, 6-1 victory over Hana Mandlikova in the final of the $100,000 Newsweek tennis tournament Sunday afternoon brought forth nothing but polite cheers from the crowd of 3,000.

There were no jeers, no taunts about Mandlikova's lack of competitive spirit, and no angry demands for a refund.

At Indian Wells, it seems, the tennis is almost secondary.

"We probably have a more sophisticated public here that understands," said tournament director Charlie Pasarell. "Although you come to the match, there's a lot more than tennis. It's more like an outing and lunch. It's a lot like Wimbledon."

For Graf, any time the 17-year-old from West Germany steps on the court, she plays to win, be it an exhibition or an important match at Wimbledon. As for Mandlikova, she obviously looks at it differently.

"It would be different in a real match," Mandlikova said when asked if she was upset with her game. "I don't really worry about it. It would be a different story if I would have played in a real match."

If Mandlikova sounds blunt, at least give her credit for being honest and not trying to pretend that Sunday meant anything.

Graf, who has a 1-1 record against Mandlikova when it does count, put a little more stock in the result.

"When I go on the court when I play her again, for sure this will stay on my mind," she said.

Although Graf has compiled many lopsided victories in the past on the tour, including the time she won a set in 15 minutes last spring, she has never defeated a player in the top five by such a wide margin.

In the first set, which lasted 20 minutes, Mandlikova won just nine points. Graf continued to apply the pressure in the second, losing one point in the first three games. Finally, Mandlikova won her only game of the match by holding serve in the fifth game.

"Everything went great today," said Graf, who felt it was her best match ever. "I couldn't believe it. I felt bad for the people because it wasn't a close match."

Said Mandlikova: "She hit the ball very well and there was basically nothing I could do. I didn't serve well, I didn't return well. Basically I didn't do anything well, and it won't happen next week."

In the past, Mandlikova hasn't exactly been known as a gracious loser. After the match, she partially attributed her poor play to a bout with the flu earlier in the week.

"I didn't play my best today. I played better in the Australian Open," she said.

Mandlikova, ranked No. 4 in the world just behind Graf, defeated Martina Navratilova to win the Australian Open in late January.

Later, after playing in a mixed doubles match, she had this to say:

"I'm not going to give her credit because she's sitting right here," said Mandlikova, laughing.

With Mandlikova, one can't often tell whether she's totally kidding or not. But, after Saturday's performance, she was definitely playing it for laughs.

Tennis Notes

They don't try to hide the fact that Grand Champions is aiming to become U.S. Open West. Already, after just one weekend, Grand Champions is beating the National Tennis Center in one thing--food prices. Take a seat, here is a partial rundown of the cuisine, Grand Champions style. ham and cheese croissant, $7.00; duck liver pate, $11.00, seafood plate, $10.00; salami sandwich, $7.00; cheeseburger and chips, $5.00; fresh fruit, $2.50. What exactly does the customer get with a purchase of fresh fruit? "You get either an apple or a pear," said a woman who was working a food stand. Is that a pear and apple for $2.50? "No, for both it costs $5.00," she said. "But you can get three plums for $2.50." Let it be said that just one complaint was lodged at this particular food stand Sunday. A woman nixed the fresh fruit after hearing the price. . . . With the victory, Steffi Graf won $40,000 by playing two matches. Hana Mandlikova also played two matches and won $20,000. . . . After the singles final, Mandlikova and Dick Stockton defeated Graf and Jaime Fillol, 6-4, 7-6.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World