Umpire's call fires up Graf in victory over Zvereva Down 0-3, top seed battles back to advance

September 01, 1996|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Steffi Graf's ponytail shook, that's how angry the usually cool German became at umpire Andreas Egli during the first set of her third-round match against 27th-ranked Natasha Zvereva yesterday.

Graf, who won the match, 6-4, 6-2, has had to come from behind in each of her matches here and yesterday she was trying to battle back from an 0-3 start, when Egli impeded her progress.

She had battled to 3-4 with Zvereva serving at 30-15, when Egli overruled two linesmen to call her forehand return long. It was then her ponytail bounced as she strode purposely toward the umpire's chair.

"I'm usually not too upset about calls," Graf, the No. 1 seed, said after the match. "But it was a strange call and for him to tell me he saw a clear space -- I mean, it just seemed a little strange because he was on the opposite side of the court.

"I was really upset. I was very close to saying, 'You'll be happy that you have a clear space between me.' "

Graf went on to win the game, the set and the match.

"Sometimes it helps to get angry," she said. "I think it helped today because, I don't know, again I had a little problem with the start, getting really into the match, somehow finding my rhythm, my timing. It definitely helped today, I was a little bit too quiet in the beginning. I just kind of let these games slip away."

Sweet 16 at 15

No. 16 seed Martina Hingis, age 15, began the day with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Naoko Kijimuta yesterday morning, and unseeded Anna Kournikova, also 15, wrapped up women's play last night with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 14 seed Barbara Paulus.

Hingis gets to face No. 3 seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, a 6-1, 6-0 winner yesterday; and Kournikova will meet Graf.

Moving on

Andre Agassi, who won in straight sets over Jan Siemerink, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (9-7), yesterday, is 14-1 in match play since entering the Olympics. . . . Jason Stoltenberg had four match points in his third-round match, but Javier Sanchez saved them all and moved into the round of 16 with a 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) victory. "All I know is that I win today," said Sanchez, ranked 67th. "I'm not thinking for the moment to win the tournament. I'm thinking to play well and win more matches. That, for me, is the more important thing."

Hot O'Brien still hot

Alex O'Brien, who has climbed from 285 in the world to 65 since July 22, lost to David Wheaton, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1, 6-2, and then started pumping his doubles match.

"I really want to put my best effort into doubles and I really want you all to put your best effort into doubles, too," said O'Brien.

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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