OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Madagascar's finest hour: Tennis
Wednesday 29 July 1992
Dally and Natacha Randriantefy will not win a gold medal in Barcelona, indeed they will have exceeded all expectation if they win a match at all. But they shared a common thread with Becker and Steffi Graf yesterday, equals until the moment play got under way.
Dally, 15, is ranked 774th in the world, while her 14-year-old sister has not played at a sufficiently high level to merit even a four-figure number. 'Natacha Randriantefy has not played in any professional tournaments' was the sole biographical detail the tennis computer could find about Madagascar's second-best player.
Normally, the sisters would have next to no chance of holding court with their betters and they are in Barcelona as part of their country's 12-strong team only because Madagascar businessmen paid the bill. They may play the same game as the millionaires of the tennis tour, but they do not share the same world. Except at the Games.
Courier, Pete Sampras and Michael Chang, winners of five Grand Slam tournaments between them, are staying in the Olympic Village with the rest of the United States team. Their daily allowance is dollars 10 (pounds 5.25), the sort of sum they tip the porter at the luxury hotels they normally frequent on the ATP Tour.
'It's wonderful,' Courier said of his life in the village. 'Where else can you look out of a window and see so many fantastic sportsmen? My only problem is I get pestered by the other athletes for autographs.'
No doubt the Randriantefy sisters would like to be among them, if they could summon the courage to ask. 'Just seeing people like Steffi Graf is fantastic,' Dally said, her eyes following Courier as he walked past. 'My great memory I will take from Barcelona will be meeting her. That and the opening ceremony.
'Tennis is not popular in Madagascar. Everyone likes to watch football and basketball, but my sport no. It's very expensive to play.'
She was speaking after being beaten by Canada's Patricia Hy in a match that lasted only 55 minutes and in which she gained only six game points in a 6-2 6-1 defeat. 'I should have won a few more games but I was very nervous,' she said. Natacha lasted even less time, going down 6-0, 6-1 to Helena Sukova, of Czechoslovakia.
Their competitive stay in Barcelona threatens to be a short one as the doubles does not offer much hope either, having drawn the top seeds, Spain's Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, in the first round. But if the sisters were disappointed, they did not show it. They were drinking in the Olympic spirit as relentlessly as Becker seemed to be letting the cup go by.
Two sets to one down against Christian Ruud, of Norway, he was grumpy and disgusted with himself. His racket was discarded with distaste at change-overs, and he persistently berated himself until grasping something of his normal form to win 3-6, 7-6, 5-7 7-6, 6-3 in just under five hours.
Appearances can be deceptive, but it is the Olympics, and to Becker it looked like it was just another match.
Latest in Sport
Moments of truth: Matches against Liverpool, Olympiakos and Manchester City will go a long way to defining David Moyes' long-term future at Manchester United
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal: And finally... Arsenal can call on Kim Kallstrom
France 20 Ireland 22 match report: Ireland hold on to give Brian O'Driscoll perfect end to glittering career
Michael Schumacher: Sebastian Vettel pays tribute to F1 legend with special helmet for Australian Grand Prix
Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0: Red-carded Jose Mourinho slams referee after defeat
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hijacking’ began soon after take-off
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong
Ukip and Nigel Farage on course for remarkable victory in European elections
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...