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As Usual, Graf Beats Sabatini

How can it be a rivalry when the same person wins all the time?

For the 10th time in a Grand Slam event, Steffi Graf played Gabriela Sabatini. For the ninth time, Graf won.

Graf blew a 5-3 lead in the second set and had to work a little harder than usual to score a 6-2, 5-7, 6-1, quarterfinal victory Tuesday at the U.S. Open.

“I think she is having troubles,” Graf said of Sabatini, who defeated the German in the 1990 Open final. “She had some close matches, she lost all of them and I think it took a little bit away (from) her confidence. On the other side, I had some close ones and I won them all. I think that is where it divides a little bit.”

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It took 2:04 for Graf to move into the semifinals against Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere and for Sabatini to remain without a title for the 23rd consecutive tournament dating to May of 1992, when she won the Italian Open.

Maleeva-Fragniere, broken pinky on her left hand and all, came back in each set to dump Kimiko Date, 7-5, 7-5, in their quarterfinal.

Maleeva-Fragniere trailed by 4-1 in the first set and by 3-1 in the second set, but surprised even herself by her comeback.

“Every match that I have won here has been a dream,” she said. “Since I broke my finger it (is) so incredible that I am in the semifinals. I would never have thought that this was possible.”

It might be possible that Sabatini will get back into the mainstream again, that she will shake off her loss to Mary Joe Fernandez at the French Open and carry on.

Sabatini, whose agreement with her coach, Dennis Ralston, expired Tuesday, said she wants to be No. 1.

“Yeah, I would like to reach the top,” she said. “I would like to be the best. I try to keep improving and to keep changing things if I have to. We will see.”


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