Tennis Roundup : Sabatini Changes Her Strategy and Stops Graf’s Streak
Gabriela Sabatini ended top-ranked Steffi Graf’s 31-match winning streak with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory in the final of a $300,000 women’s tournament Sunday at Amelia Island, S.C.
It was Graf’s first loss since Nov. 19, 1988, when she was beaten, 6-3, 7-6, by Pam Shriver in the Virginia Slims Championships at New York.
“I was definitely not playing well,” said Graf, who made 60 unforced errors, 29 of them on her usually tough forehand. “My serve was terrible.”
Sabatini, ranked third, took control of the match in the second set when she built a 5-0 lead. After the first set, when she tried to match Graf’s power from the baseline, she changed her strategy. Her high topspin groundstrokes kept Graf pinned deep on the clay court.
“I started using my mind more,” Sabatini said after picking up the $60,000 winner’s check. “She started making mistakes. My game was bothering her.”
Sabatini broke Graf’s serve in the first game of the third set and made it stand up until Graf broke back in the 10th game to tie the score, 5-5.
It seemed Graf would steal the match, but Sabatini broke Graf’s serve to go up, 6-5. She then held on to win as Graf netted a forehand volley on match point.
Sabatini also beat Graf in the semifinals of this tournament last year, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, before losing to Martina Navratilova in the final.
Magnus Gustafsson of Sweden won his first pro tournament, wearing out Yugoslavia’s Bruno Oresar with an overpowering forehand for a 6-2, 6-0 victory in the $200,000 River Oaks tournament at Houston.
Gustafsson, who earned $40,000, hit 28 forehand winners, most of them to Oresar’s backhand. Oresar got $25,000.
Top-seeded Luiz Mattar of Brazil won a $230,000 tournament at Rio de Janeiro by beating third-seeded Martin Jaite of Argentina, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
The 2 1/2-hour match, held on a specially constructed court on Copacabana Beach, was delayed several hours because of heavy rain.
Mattar earned $40,000, while Jaite, ranked 64th in the world, won $20,000.
Playing a powerful serve-and-volley game, Ronald Agenor of Haiti defeated top-seeded Kent Carlsson of Sweden, 6-3, 6-4, to win his first Nabisco Grand Prix title at the $125,000 Athens International tournament.