Australian Open Tennis : Graf, Like Clockwork, Wins Easily; Noah Falls

Times Staff Writer

The Steffi Graf watch? Wind it up and you lose in 51 minutes.

The Graf graph shot off the chart once again Wednesday afternoon, and not one person was surprised. Impressed, maybe, but not surprised.

Graf’s upward spiral through the Australian Open women’s singles draw continued unimpeded on center court, mindless of a 23-year-old named Rene Simpson who was placed in Graf’s path.

There seems to be no one capable of blocking Graf’s progress until the semifinals, where she has a possible date with Gabriela Sabatini, who has already announced that she covets Graf’s No. 1. ranking.


Simpson, ranked No. 132 in the world, was no problem for Graf, who dispensed a methodical 6-0, 6-0 defeat in just 60 seconds longer than it took her to beat Kerry-Anne Guse in the first round.

“It was a little fast,” Graf admitted.

Next up for Graf in the third round is Marianne Werdel, ranked No. 113, a 21-year-old who lives in Bakersfield.

Graf said she plays no differently in her early matches than she does in the later ones when the competition is presumably tougher.

“I’m still going for my first serve, still trying to win the same kind of points I do in the difficult matches,” she said.

With such speedy matches, Graf has had some spare time, so she has seen two movies.

“I saw the worst movie I have ever seen,” Graf said. “It was ‘Moonwalker.’ I am a big fan of (Michael) Jackson, but it was terrible.”

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” wasn’t bad, said Graf, who thinks she has enough to do with tennis.

“I’ll leave that (doing critiques) to someone else,” she said.

Zina Garrison found the going tough, however. Garrison, seeded sixth, got past Sandra Wasserman of Belgium, but she had to come back from a 4-2 in the third.

“At that point, I just said to myself: ‘Hang in there.’ ”

So she did, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, although Garrison admitted she was rusty from not playing any singles matches since the Virginia Slims Championships in November.

“It was something of a gamble not playing last week (at Sydney),” she said. “I could have played and been a little more familiar with this surface.”

The surface was certainly good to Aaron Krickstein, seeded 10th, who advanced to a second-round match against Jeff Tarango by defeating West German Udo Riglewski, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Krickstein served only one ace, but he didn’t need a big serve, only to hit the ball over the net. Riglewski made 49 unforced errors.

Australians Pat Cash and Mark Woodforde got through to the second round with victories late Tuesday night.

Cash breezed past Brett Custer, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1, in 88 minutes on center court, where later Woodforde also won his first-round match in a 3-hour 54-minute, 5-set struggle with Yannick Noah of France.

Woodforde eliminated the eighth-seeded Noah, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2, 6-7, 6-4.

“He’s good,” Noah said of Woodforde, who won the second-set tiebreaker, 7-5, and the fourth-set tiebreaker, 9-7. “He’s a dangerous player, he can beat anyone, but he’s going to have to play them better if he wants to win the tournament.”

Noah’s defeat left France without any of its top 5 players still in the tournament.

Cash’s victory was not unexpected, but there had been concern that Cash’s right arm was too sore for him to be effective.

Cash, who has recently altered his service motion for more of a whipping motion, was forced to withdraw from the Rio Challenge exhibition last weekend because his arm was sore.

The 13th-seeded Cash did not seem to be at all affected by an arm injury.

“It didn’t bother me at all, not once,” Cash said.