Something Will Have to Give in Graf-Martinez Matchup Today

Forced by injury to miss the first Grand Slam event of the year, Steffi Graf has been moving toward the French Open final like a heat-seeking missile.

She faces the draw's other hot player, Conchita Martinez, in a semifinal today. Top-seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario will play ninth-seeded Kimiko Date in the other semifinal.

The second-ranked Graf is not only unbeaten this year, she has yet to lose a set since returning to the tour after a back injury. She has always placed great emphasis on the four Grand Slam tournaments, and missing the Australian Open gave her added incentive to win here.

Her quarterfinal match Tuesday against Gabriela Sabatini, which she won, 6-1, 6-0, showed Graf's awesome power. Even the reserved Graf acknowledged it is the best she has played in the tournament.

"Absolutely, there's no doubt about it," she said. "I was focused from the first point on and knew what I was doing on the court. I was waiting patiently for the right shots. My serve was perfect. I think from every point I can say I felt extremely good, my backhand, whatever."

Martinez has found a new coach and a new attitude. Her positive approach here seems to suit her game. The fourth-ranked Martinez, like Graf, has advanced easily. She has not lost a set in the tournament and has a 24-match winning streak.

Sanchez Vicario's speed and ability to get to almost every shot propelled her to the title here last year. She was ill earlier, nearly defaulting her second-round match, but has recovered.

Date is a question mark. Sanchez Vicario has won six of the seven times they have met on clay. But Date has a 29-6 record this year and has reached the quarterfinals in seven of her eight tournaments.

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