Tennis / Wimbledon '94: Maleeva hunted down by 'Jakarta Jaguar'

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The Independent Online
ANYTHING that happens after Wimbledon went off the Graf is going to be like the aftershocks following an earthquake, but the women's singles competition trembled ever so slightly yesterday when another seed was scattered, writes Guy Hodgson.

This time it was Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva, the 16th-ranked woman in the tournament, who bit the dusty, sun-baked courts of the All England Club when she was defeated 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 by Indonesia's Yayuk Basuki in two hours 14 minutes.

Basuki, a 23-year-old who has won nine events and risen to a rank of 36 without exactly grabbing the world and demanding it take notice, is known as the 'Jakarta Jaguar' for reasons that no one appears to know other than it runs neatly off the tongue. But yesterday neither she nor Maleeva were firing or running particularly smoothly.

Indeed their match was something of a nightmare for anyone trying to prove the first shot in tennis is too powerful as there were 11 breaks of serve. Advantage lurched from one side of the net to the other like a drunk with no particular idea which direction he was heading.

Maleeva, the 19-year-old latest edition of a dynasty that has also included her two sisters and her mother, was serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set and also was a break up in the third, but she squandered both opportunities. Somehow Basuki managed to overcome the disadvantage of not returning all the time to stagger over the line.

Elsewhere the favoured women sailed serenely through like players who suddenly have the notion they might win the championship, which they might of course now that Queen Steffi has been dethroned after a four-year reign.

The Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, newly established as favourite, defeated Argentina's Maria Jose Gaidano 6-2, 6-1 in 58 minutes, while last year's finalist, Jana Novotna, who estimates she will be the chief beneficiary of Graf's demise, crushed Wiltrud Probst 6-2, 6-1 even more quickly (52 minutes).

Both winners, the second and fifth seeds respectively, barely broke sweat, which in sauna-like conditions was remarkable. Martina Navratilova's pulse probably raced more than anyone when Graf was ousted as the scent of a 10th Wimbledon singles title came sharper into focus. She had to wait until it was nearly dusk to get on Centre Court, but hardly lingered once she got there, destroying Italy's Sandra Cecchini 6-2, 6-0.

They left the court all smiles - Cecchini even asked for and was given her opponent's racket as a memento - which is hardly how you would describe the finale between Pam Shriver and Rachel McQuillan. A frosty exchange followed Shriver's 5- 7, 6-2, 8-6 win, which was a vast improvement on the last time they met two weeks ago at Edgbaston. Then McQuillan told the President of the Women's Tennis Association 'You're old, you're haggard and you ought to retire.'

Two victories would seem to be the perfect riposte.