Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Graf Blasts Date, Faces Sanchez Vicario in Final

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Graf Blasts Date, Faces Sanchez Vicario in Final

Article excerpt

Steffi Graf, seeking her fourth Australian Open title in seven years, overpowered Kimiko Date 6-3, 6-3 today. That set up a final against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Sanchez Vicario, who had lost in the semifinals the last three years, defeated Gabriela Sabatini 6-1, 6-2 to reach her first Australian Open final.

The top-seeded Graf, overwhelming Date at times with powerful forehands and serves, quickly opened a 5-1 lead and finished the first set in 31 minutes.

She broke Date's serve in the opening and closing games of the second set and completed the match in 61 minutes.

"I think it was a match we both didn't have a lot of rhythm," Graf said.

"She went for a lot of shots and she made a lot of them, but she also made some errors."

"I expected a tougher match than it ended up."

Graf won the Australian Open title in 1988, 1989 and 1990. The last three years it was won by Monica Seles, who is sidelined while recovering from being stabbed in the back during a match in Germany last April.

Date, seeded 10th, was the first Japanese player in the semifinal of a Grand Slam tournament since 1973.

The second-seeded Sanchez Vicario needed only slightly longer to finish off No. 4 Sabatini, completing the 65-minute match by winning the last four games. Sanchez Vicario mixed hard groundstrokes with delicate drop shots to keep Sabatini off balance.

Graf has a 21-5 record against Sanchez Vicario. But the last time Graf lost in a Grand Slam tournament to anyone other than Seles was to Sanchez Vicario in the quarterfinals of the 1992 U.S. Open.

On Wednesday, Jim Courier had his Grand Slam attitude back.

While advancing to the semifinals and a match against compatriot Pete Sampras, Courier has regained the emotional edge he appeared to be losing last fall.

Yet another American, Todd Martin, will face Sweden's Stefan Edberg in the other semifinal on Friday. It is the first time since 1982 that three Americans are in the men's semifinals of the Australian Open. …

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