Sabatini, Ralston apparently set to go own ways

September 09, 1993|By Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

NEW YORK -- Dennis Ralston's coaching contract with Gabriela Sabatini ran through the end of the U.S. Open and apparently it won't be continued.

Ralston, the former U.S. Davis Cup star, couldn't be reached for comment and Sabatini would say only that "we haven't talked." But sources close to Ralston said he has decided not to continue with Sabatini.

The source said Sabatini is negotiating with former world No. 2 Guillermo Vilas, also an Argentine, to replace Ralston.

Ralston was hired just before the Lipton tournament this year and laid out a three-phase program to move Sabatini up in the rankings.

He wanted to improve her physical conditioning, get her a better second serve and make her more aggressive.

She was 13-4 (.765) from the start of the season through Lipton, a tournament at which Ralston had no opportunity to coach.

She was 32-10 (.762) from the end of Lipton through the U.S. Open. She was 65-12 (.844) in 1992, when Carlos Kirmayr was her coach.

Sabatini has been through a long slump in which she has not won a title in 23 consecutive tournaments.

She came close under Ralston, losing three straight finals: at Amelia Island (to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario), the Italian Open (Conchita Martinez) and Berlin (Steffi Graf).

Sabatini was ranked No. 5 the week after Lipton. She was No. 6 coming into the Open and went out in the quarterfinals here.

* Players added another complaint yesterday to their long list of U.S. Open problems, which includes bad food, poor locker room facilities and a lack of privacy.

USTA president Bumpy Frazer sold half the players lounge and dining area to sponsors for Wednesday parties, reducing space in the already crowded quarters.

That has been done in previous years, but, with the rain yesterday, the lounge was jammed with juniors unable to play.

One men's tour official complained directly to Frazer, who apologized, admitted it was a mistake "and a disgrace" and said he would never do it again.

* Five of the remaining six players on the men's side are into uncharted Grand Slam territory:

* Magnus Larsson: Made the quarters by beating Boris Becker, had never been past the third round of a Grand Slam.

* Cedric Pioline: First time past the third round of the Open. He made the quarters of Wimbledon this year, where he lost to Stefan Edberg.

* Andrei Medvedev: First U.S. Open. He would be the only male player to win the Open, or its predecessor, the U.S. Nationals, in his first try, other than Richard Sears, who won the first U.S. title in 1881.

* Wally Masur: Playing his 42nd Grand Slam event and has reached the quarters for only the third time.

* Alexander Volkov: Never past the third round of a Slam event.

Almost unnoticed in this graveyard of seeded players is the men's doubles, where the top 11 seeded teams did not make the quarters.

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