Courier, Seles rate as year's finest

October 26, 1992|By Thomas Bonk | Thomas Bonk,Los Angeles Times

With legitimate tournament tennis all but wrapped up for 1992 -- not counting dueling million-dollar special events such as the Virginia Slims Championships, the ATP Championships and the Grand Slam Cup -- the time is right to take stock, pass out awards. Actually, it's a fairly simple job.

* Top men's player: Jim Courier. It's hard to argue with the selection of the No. 1-ranked player in the world. Besides, Courier won two Grand Slam events and made the semifinals of a third and no one else matched that.

(Runners up -- Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg. Between a bad start and a mediocre ending, Agassi was brilliant at the right time. He won Wimbledon. Edberg lost to Courier in the Australian final, but that's not what got him the runner-up position. No, he made it basically for his gutsy U.S. Open performance when he came through even though it got hotter for him than a sauna back in Sweden.)

* Top women's player: Monica Seles. The No. 1-ranked player won three of the four Grand Slam events and lost to Steffi Graf in the final of the other, at Wimbledon on grass, which is not exactly Seles' favorite surface anyway. That would be more like the cool, marble floor of a shopping mall, where she could indulge in buying additional clothing of her favorite color of the moment, black.

* Top match: Seles' three-set victory over Graf in the French Open final.

* Worst match: Any first-round women's match in any Grand Slam.

* Worst loss: Jim Courier losing at Wimbledon to qualifier Andrei Olhovskiy, who was referred to by his own coach as "a nobody."

* Longest match: Edberg's 5-hour 26-minute, five-set victory over Michael Chang in the U.S. Open semifinals.

* Shortest match: (See Worst match above.)

* Biggest baloney: Twenty-two year-old Agassi's supposed U.S. Open romance with 50-year-old Barbra Streisand.

* Second biggest baloney: Grunt-o-meters (The London Daily Mail used one at Wimbledon to measure Seles' loudest grunt at 98.1 decibels, which the Mail claimed to be two decibels lower than a pneumatic drill and three decibels higher than a plane flying overhead.)

* Saddest ranking: John McEnroe, No. 21.

* Best quote: Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia on the lack of excitement in Palm Springs, Calif. -- "I don't like here. I try restaurants, I see two young people. Everybody else is 100 years old, 150. Every time I think somebody is going to die in restaurant."

* Second best quote: Ivanisevic on his maturity "I still break rackets, but I do it in a positive way."

* Best unintentional quote: Agassi on playing McEnroe at Wimbledon -- "I really take an invested interest in this match."

* Best line: Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands saying 80 percent of women tennis players are "fat, lazy pigs," then recanting -- "I exaggerated . . . I meant 75 percent."

* Material girl: No one in tennis played better than Monica Seles in 1992, but according to People magazine, no athlete in the world dressed worse.

The magazine said Seles, 18, needs to spend more time on her wardrobe and less time on her tennis game.

Seles, who won three Grand Slam titles, the year-long Kraft Tour points championship and will again end the year ranked No. 1, was the only athlete to make the magazine's worst-dressed list. At least she may has plenty of company with the likes of Roseanne Arnold, Ivana Trump, Latoya Jackson, Michael Jackson, Axl Rose, Geena Davis and Arsenio Hall.

* Ivan's not terrible: Ivan Lendl's victory last week in the Seiko Super tournament in Tokyo was something of a landmark occasion for him. Not only was it his first title in 14 months, it was also his first since becoming a U.S. citizen, marked his return into the top 10 (he's No. 8) and made him the oldest winner on the IBM-ATP tour this year.

Lendl, who is 32 years 7 months old, said reports of his demise were exaggerated: "People are making much more out of me not winning than there was."

* But he uses a baton:I Asked who his ultimate doubles partner would be, Stefan Edberg chose John McEnroe. For someone outside of tennis, Edberg selected Carl Lewis -- "because he would get to the net quicker than anyone else."

* FYI: There is a 17-year-old Czech player on the Kraft Tour named Gabriela Navratilova. The teen's record is 1-3 with prize winnings of $465, which puts her 1,829 victories and $23,913,783 in winnings behind her namesakes.

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