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TENNIS ROUNDUP : Graf Survives Slow Start, Beats Meskhi

Top-seeded Steffi Graf of West Germany fell behind early against Leila Meskhi of the Soviet Union, then won nine straight games and advanced to the semifinals of the German Open women’s tennis tournament today.

Graf lost serve in the third game and trailed 2-1 and then 4-2, but after that, she was not troubled by Meskhi, rolling to a 6-4, 6-1 victory.

Graf’s semifinal opponent will be another Soviet, No. 8 seed Natalia Zvereva, who beat No. 9 Judith Wiesner of Austria, 6-7, 6-0, 6-4.

In other quarterfinal matches, second-seeded Monica Seles of Yugoslavia overpowered sixth-seeded Conchita Martinez of Spain, 6-0, 6-3, and 16th-seeded Sandra Cecchini of Italy upset No. 10 Nathalie Tauziat of France, 7-6, 6-3.

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“I tried to rush too much at the start,” Graf said after her 60-minute victory. “I needed to be more patient and then everything was OK.”

Graf’s victory stretched her winning streak to 65, leaving her only nine short of the record held by Martina Navratilova since 1984.

Victory at this event and the French Open, which begins May 28, would enable Graf to tie the record.

Seles, winner of her last four tournaments, extended her winning streak to 22 by defeating Martinez in 50 minutes.

In Rome, Andres Gomez of Ecuador, Emilio Sanchez of Spain and Thomas Muster of Austria all moved into the semifinals of the $1.28 million Italian Open today.

Gomez, the No. 3 seed, needed less than an hour to beat unseeded Omar Camporese of Italy 6-1, 6-2. Sanchez, the No. 4 seed, defeated Guillermo Perez-Roldan of Argentina 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, and Muster, the No. 10 seed, overcame unseeded Guy Forget of France 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

The fourth semifinal berth was being decided tonight in a match between two other clay court specialists, defending champion Alberto Mancini of Argentina and Andrei Chesnokov of the Soviet Union.

Gomez became the title favorite after the top two seeds, Americans Brad Gilbert and Aaron Krickstein, were eliminated in the third round Thursday.

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Today, the left-hander overwhelmed Camporese with smooth, sweeping groundstrokes. He broke serve four times and never lost his serve.

“At my age it’s nice to have a day like this,” Gomez, 30, said. “To win a match in less than hour is a godsend.”


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