Martinez gives value for money

The 'Latin quarter' brought the ladies' tournament to life, writes Tim Glover

Say what you like about women's tennis, but it beats working for a living. It makes some men, most conspicuously the fathers of the contestants, extremely happy, not to mention proud.

Take Osvaldo Sabatini and Cecilio Martinez. Osvaldo retired in 1986 after a career as an executive with General Motors, but the smartest move he ever made was to buy his daughter, Gabriela, a tennis racket. She in return, after amassing about $8m (pounds 5m) in prize money, bought a ranch three years ago and appointed her father as curator. As for Cecilio, a retired accountant, he can give Conchita fiscal advice on a purse in excess of $4m.

Even by modern standards of professional sport, the sums are ludicrous, but yesterday the All England Club were indebted to Martinez and Sabatini.

Conveniently, the quarter-finals were completed before the announcement of another one-sided victory at Westminster, but at least Conchita and Gabriela gave the crowd on Centre Court their money's worth. The duration of their match in the Latin quarter was eight minutes short of two hours, and at the end, when the 23-year-old Spaniard defeated the 25-year-old Argentinian, 7-5, 7-6, they were given a standing ovation.

Whether this was more for endurance than quality is open to debate, but the fact that the players broke sweat has something to commend it. Martinez is the defending champion, although it is a fair bet that if you asked half the people here who won last year, they would say Steffi Graf. The other half would probably say Martina Navratilova.

Martinez, though, is a tough hombre. Question: Do you actually feel like the Wimbledon champion, or do you feel that Steffi is just going to come along and take the title away? Answer: "I'm the defending champion. I'm the Wimbledon champion. Nobody can take it away from me. I have a lot of confidence right now."

What lifted the spectators was that the match had an element of suspense. Sabatini, with a couple of breaks of serve, led 4-1 in the first set, and then did what she has so often done in the past - she fell on her posterior. Serving for the set in the 10th game, she tossed in two double faults and in between went sprawling near the baseline to concede another point.

Martinez, who has yet to concede a set here, had been so nervous at the start that Sabatini served two double faults in the second game and still won; in the fifth, Martinez put together a string of double faults to go 4-1 down. In the deciding game of the first set, Sabatini saved two set points, but Martinez is not just tough, she is cute.

A largish woman, she is not the fastest mover around a court, and when she is forced to run flat-out, heavy breathing ensues. At times like this, Martinez's shoelaces tend to come undone. In the second set, it was Sabatini who appeared to be fading fast and in no time at all she was 5-1 down.

This, of course, was also vintage Sabatini. This is the girl who has had a fiery orange-red rose named in her honour, has launched a perfume, signed a multi-million dollar contract with Pepsi, and had a doll produced in her likeness.

Sabatini had been in no-woman's land in the second set, and was unsure whether to unreservedly take the high ground at the net or stay back. Martinez's strength, apart from being able to win matches on a surface that is supposed to be anathema to her game, is that she possesses a red- blooded cross-court backhand.

What had become a disconcerting experience for Sabatini nearly became one of her finest hours. In the eighth game, she saved two match points and the crowd began to sense a revival.

Gaby, who had been the queen of unforced errors and double faults, kept the ball in play and won four games in a row to level. The tie-break was also close, but ultimately it was decided by a rare burst of adventure from Martinez. A confirmed baseliner, she approached the net and punched away the winning volley.

She is almost equally as defensive in the interview room. Question: Do you detect a lack of interest in your defence of the title? Answer: "The only thing I can tell you right now is that I'm incredibly happy to be in the semi-finals. I'm sure some things are upsetting me, but the worst thing that can happen is to let these things upset me."

The interview, sparsely attended, was then conducted in Spanish, and the inquisition sounded a great deal more interesting.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride