Graf beaten on clay by Hingis
Saturday 11 May 1996
Martina Hingis gave the world No 1, Steffi Graf, her first defeat on clay in almost two years yesterday when she beat the German in the quarter- finals of the Italian Open in Rome.
The 15-year-old Swiss sixth seed demonstrated why she is tipped as a future champion, recovering from the loss of the first set to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 for the best victory of her short career.
"I've just beaten the world No 1," an ecstatic Hingis, ranked 20 in the world, said. "It feels great."
For Graf, unbeaten in tournaments this year and winner of three of last year's four grand slams, it was the first defeat on clay since she lost to Mary Pierce in the French Open semi-finals two years ago.
The 26-year-old German, playing her first tournament of the season on clay, has struggled all week to adapt her game to the slow Foro Italico surface. A flow of unforced forehand errors was largely to blame for her defeat by Hingis.
"I've got to get physically in shape for Paris," Graf said, adding that she would not be ask for a wild-card entry for next week's Berlin Open. "I'll take some days off, try to relax a bit," she said.
In the first set Graf appeared to have ironed out the problems she had shown in earlier rounds. Three of the first four games went to deuce but, at 2-2, the German turned on the power, breaking serve twice to take the next four games and the set.
At the start of the second set, however, Hingis started showing the talent which made her the youngest-ever quarter-finalist at the Australian Open in January.
Mixing her game by coming up to the net and surprising her opponent with neat drop shots, Hingis broke Graf's service three times to level at one set each. Refusing to be overawed by an opponent 11 years her senior and due to set a record of 332 total weeks as world No 1 next week, Hingis broke serve in the fourth game of the final set to take a 3-1 lead.
Graf broke back, but the crisis was not over as the German's erratic groundstrokes gave Hingis three break-points in the eighth game.
Two were saved but on the third the German served a double fault to go 5-3 down. Five points later it was all over.
"It was a great chance for me to beat her because she hasn't been playing that many tournaments lately," said Hingis, ''but I haven't won anything, I've just reached the semi-finals."
n Pete Sampras, the world No 1, has withdrawn from next week's Italian Open following the death of his coach and close friend Tim Gullikson. Michael Chang has also pulled out because of an injury.
Arsenal 1 Everton 1: Substitute equalises with six minutes to go
food + drinkMichelin-starred Tom Sellers on being this year's hottest property
booksGeese, gorillas, grandads... and growing up
tvParents (and kids) rejoice! A new wave of fantastic family entertainment is here
food + drinkHow one grocery e-tailer is gearing up for the Yuletide rush
food + drink
Latest in Sport
Ashes 2013/14: England’s Ashes shambles is uglier than ’06 whitewash
Gerard Deulofeu - Why Barcelona chose Everton to educate their latest prodigy
Manchester United 0 Newcastle United 1 match report: David Moyes powerless to prevent dismal defeat
Liverpool 4 West Ham 1 match report: Luis Suarez gives England more to fear
Manchester United 0 Newcastle United 1: Champions haven't got a clue
- 1 Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
- 2 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 3 The man who made Femen: New film outs Victor Svyatski as the mastermind behind the protest group and its breast-baring stunts
- 4 Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis
- 5 Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant
£80000 - £100000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior C++ De...
£25000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C++ Server Dev...
£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: Leading Electronic Trading Software Ven...
£23999 - £32001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: An independent ac...