Seles/Graf: Graf's asterisks and hollow wins due to "93 Hamburg (What If)

Seles/Graf: Graf's asterisks and hollow wins due to "93 Hamburg (What If)

Post by Women's Tenni » Sun, 26 Feb 2006 07:02:01

"WHAT IF" DATELINE: April 30, 1993...

HAMBURG, GERMANY-- World #1 Monica Seles of Yugoslavia, eight-time
grand slam champion, suffered a scare earlier today when a fan
attempted to stab her in the back during a changeover in the 2nd set of
her QF matchup with Magdalena Maleeva in the Citizen Cup in Hamburg.

   A spectator identified by police officials as Guenter Parche, 38, of
Germany was wrestled to the ground by stadium security personnel as he
attempted to reach over a partition to stab Seles in the back while she
sat.  A knife was confiscated from Parche, and officials later
confirmed reports that he was a self-confessed fan of world #2, and
fellow German, Steffi Graf.

   After a short delay, Seles went on to win the match 6-4/6-3.

   During a post-match press conference, Seles expressed gratitude
toward the quick-acting stadium and WTA security officials.  "They did
their job, which is to keep us safe out there," said the 1993
Australian Open champ.

   After her characteristic giggle, the 19-year old added, "I think
maybe I should buy them all big dinners tonight... maybe a couple
nights, actually."

   Asked if she would withdraw from the tournament, Seles said she'd
give it a day to be certain, but said she feels fine and doesn't fear
for her safety.  "I'm a little shaken up, sure.  But I expect to play
tomorrow or whenever I'm scheduled to go.  I've never won here before,
and I really want to.  Steffi's won the title here, what, six years in
a row?  I think I'd like to change that."

   With a quick smile, Seles was gone.  Safe, sound... and still the
best female tennis player in the world.

"WHAT IF" DATELINE:  November 3, 2003...

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA-- Tennis legend Monica Seles, 29, officially
announced her retirement at the conclusion of this week's WTA

   The end of the Yugoslav-born American's legendary career closes the
book on a player who it could be argued is the greatest female player
the game has known.

   If numbers are a large identifying characteristic, Seles has the
goods to back up the notion.  While not matching all-time WTA
title-holder Martina Navratilova's 167 career singles titles, Seles did
trump the other most lethal female lefty in total grand slam
championships.  Her final slam title, at the 1999 Roland Garros, was
the 20th of her storied career, making her only the second woman with
20 or more slam crowns.  Margaret Court won 24 in the 1960s-70s, but
Seles' total rates higher than her more contemporary rivals for the
"best-ever" title:  Navratilova (18), Chris Evert (18) and Steffi Graf

   Fittingly, Seles defeated Graf in that '99 Roland Garros final, the
15th slam final matchup between the two.  The long-running rivalry
consisted of the two trading the #1 ranking often between 1991-98 and
participating in a series of memorable matches reminiscent of the
Navratilova-Evert era that preceded their's.

   Additionally, it was at Roland Garros where Seles had her most
time-honored moments.  Before winning her 20th slam there, she became
the youngest RG winner (16 years, 6 months) in 1990 and her three
straight titles from 1990-92 made her the first woman to accomplish the
feat in 55 years.  The 1999 title was her eighth in Paris, moving her
past former all-time leader Evert's seven.

 The "best" or not, Seles' vaunted place in history is bound to be
argued for years to come... but those who saw her in her prime will
always have their own unwavering opinion.


So much was lost on April 30, 1993 that it's still painful to think
about it.

   Of course, Seles WAS stabbed... and she was never the same.  Parche
wanted to return Graf to the #1 position in the rankings by injuring
her top opponent, but Seles was actually far more than just Steffi's
top competition.

   The ***ager's double-sided, two-handed game led the charge of power
tennis in the early 1990s.  The power, combined with a remarkable
ability to create angled shots on the court and an eerie immunity to
feeling the pressure of big-point situations, helped Seles end Graf's
record 186-week stay at #1 in March 1991.  Before Martina Hingis topped
her mark in 1997, Seles was the youngest player to ever become the
world #1.

   Before the Hamburg incident, Seles had won 32 of the 62 tournaments
she'd entered (an amazing 52%!), was the youngest to win 30 titles in a
career (1992), sported a record of 253-29, had made the finals of her
eight previous grand slams played (winning seven), and won five of the
last six slam titles (advancing to the finals of all six).

   Seles had begun to break and demoralize Graf, too, a fact somewhat
lost to history eleven years later.  Her ability to fearlessly raise
her game in pressure moments only further confounded a
formerly-*** Graf who'd finally found an opponent she couldn't
routinely blow off the court with her magnificent forehand.  While she
was still finding herself on grasscourts at the time, Seles sported a
4-3 record against Graf in the last seven pre-Hamburg matches between
the two on hard or clay courts, and her best moments came on the
biggest stages.  She won a tight 7-6/6-4 final at RG in 1990, a 10-8
3rd set in the '92 RG final and had won in three in the '93 Oz final
just three months before the fateful trip to Germany for,  ironically,
Seles' first action after a viral infection had forced her withdrawl
from four WTA events following the Paris indoors that February.

   As it turned out, Parche got his wish as Graf soon returned to #1
while Seles, nursing mental and psychological scars long after the stab
wound had healed, didn't play for two years and three months.

Graf, of course, won 22 slam titles , including six of the nine slams
held during Seles' absence.  After going 1-3 against Seles in slam
finals before the stabbing (excluding their Wimbledon matchup, which
Graf won), Graf was 2-0 after Hamburg (both at the US Open).

Seles was obviously robbed of so much because of Hamburg.