The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on January 5, 1992 · Page 44
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The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia · Page 44

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Sunday, January 5, 1992
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Page 44
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5 January 1992 NEWS The Sunday Age SPORT 5 AMstalaunis clash in women's tenuis fma. A USTRALIA'S top two women f tennis players, Rachel A McQuillan and Nicole Provis, will battle out the final of the $190,000 Australian hardcourt championship in Brisbane today. It will be the first time two Australian women have met in a world tour final since Evonne Goolagong beat Dianne Fromholtz in the United States indoor championship in October 1979. The last time two Australians met in a final on home soil is believed to have been in 1978, in Sydney, when Fromholtz beat Wendy Turnbull 6-2, 7-5. "This is great for Australian women's tennis, whichever way the final turns out," McQuillan said after beating American Debbie Graham 7-5, 6-4 for a chance to win her first major career title. "I won't feel so bad if I lose." It will be McQuillan's fifth shot at a title, but for Provis the match will be her first final on the international circuit. Provis beat Bulgarian Magdalena Maleeva in a hard-fought encounter 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to make her first major tournament final in an eight-year career. Provis, 22, held serve only six times in a match in which there were 20 service breaks, but her fitness was enough to carry her through. "Maleeva was definitely feeling the heat," the 1988 French Open semi-finalist said later. "I could see that she was struggling towards the middle of the second set but I was raws has a to"!: to answer far By Mike Sheahan JIMMY Connors did far more than humiliate an Australian hero when he took to Ken Rosewall during 1974. Not long after Jimbo's pushy mom, Gloria, unleashed her brash and boorish son on the international scene, he took it upon himself to conquer the world. He intimidated everyone at court level and inflicted deep wounds on the Australian tennis psyche. The Connors demolition of Rosewell was a two-part job over two months. It was the end of Rosewall, then 39. Connors, nearly 18 years his junior, beat him 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 in the' 1974 Wimbledon final. Two months later, he gave him a real whipping, winning the US Open 6-1, 6-0, 6-1. The past 17 years indicate Australian tennis still has not recovered. Connors' brutal assault was the catalyst for a decline that has become a seemingly endless descent. Despite Intensive Junior coaching, hopes of an Australian revival are based on little more than hope. The past decade shows that only Pat Cash was capable of helping till the void left by Rosewall, John New-combe, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley and, to a lesser extent, Wendy Turn-bull. And Cash was gone before we had time to appreciate his talent. In the 11 years from 1980-91, Australia won just two Grand Slam titles: Goolagong-Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980; Cash at Wimbledon in 1987. Next week's New South Wales Open Includes just two Australian men Wally Masur and Todd Wood-bridge In the main draw, and both gained entry on wildcards. In the West End men's championship in Adelaide last week, Australia was unrepresented after the second round. We exited the Hopman Cup In Perth the previous weekend. Masur Is Australia's highest- feeling fine. I could have kept going." Provis has been working hard on her fitness during the past 12 months, losing 10 kilograms in the process, a factor that obviously helped in the sauna-like conditions on centre court yesterday. McQuillan, who was down 0-4 in the second set, reeled off six straight games to take out the match against the big-hitting Graham in one hour, 28 minutes. "I did let it slip away there early in the second set. That's something I'll have to watch in the final," the 20-year-old Australian No. 1 said later. The Newcastle right-hander reached the final here in 1990 and admitted enjoying the home crowd atmosphere. "It's a tournament I love playing because it's in Australia," she said. "I'd love to win here." McQuillan, the eighth seed and ranked 36 in the world, last met Provis on clay two years ago in the Lufthansa Cup, losing 6-0, 6-1. "She killed me," McQuillan recalled. "But I'm playing a lot better than I did two years ago. "I think I am a bit more of an aggressive player than Nicole. I tend to come into the net more, but it will be a tough match, Nic's been playing well." Provis, who has slipped from 25 to 45 In world rankings in the past three years, has credited a change of racquet and a more relaxed attitude for a form improvement during the past few months. Australians in the top 100 in the world rankings Man (at of 23 December) Wally Masur 56. Jason Stoltenberg 75, Todd Woodbridge 77, Mark Woodforde 88, Darren Cahlll 91, Richard Fromberg 95. Women (at of 2 December) Rachel McQuillan 36, Nicole Provis 45, Ann Minter 58, Kristin Godridge 86. Our record in the four majors, 1980-91 AUSTRALIAN OPEN Men: No winner. Runnera-up: Kim Warwick, 1981; Pat Cash, 1987-88. Women: No winner. Runner-up: Wendy Turnbull, 1981. WIMBLEDON Men: Winner: Pat Cash 1987. Runners-up: Nil. Women: Winner: Evonne Goolagong-Cawley 1980. Runnera-up: Nil. UNITED STATES OPEN Men: No finalists. Women: No finalists. FRENCH OPEN Men: No finalists. Women: No finalists. Davis Cup 1983: Australia (Pat Cash, John Fitzgerald, Mark Edmondson, Paul McNamee) d Sweden 3-2 (Melbourne). 1986: Australia (Pat Cash, Paul McNamee, John Fitzgerald) d Sweden, 3-2 (Melbourne). 1990: US d Australia (Richard Fromberg. Darren Cahill, Pat Cash, John Fitzgerald), 3-2 (St Petersburg). Federation Cup 1980: US d Australia (Dianne Fromholtz, Wendy Turnbull, Sue Leo) 3-0 (Berlin). 1984: Czechoslovakia d Australia (Anne Minter, Liz Sayers (Smylie), Wendy Turnbull) 2-1 (Sao Paulo). ranked player in the world, at 56. Rachel McQuillan is the highest-' ranked woman, at 36. We had six men and four women in the respective top 100s at the end of 1991. Nicole Provis and McQuillan gave Australia's battered morale a boost in Brisbane yesterday, setting up an all-Australian final in the Australian women's hardcourt championship. Provis came from behind to beat Magdalena Maleeva, while McQuillan accounted for Debbie Graham. It Is the first all-Australian women's final since 1978. It needs to be noted that Maleeva is 16, while Graham turned professional less than six months ago, and Seles, Graf, Sanchez Vicario, Navratllova, Manuela Meleeva-FraRnlere and Sukova were r . v x .1 x- A ' b' Chasing glory: Australian Rachel McQuillan is seeking her first major title in the national hardcourt championship absent at Brisbane. The bottom line, however, is that Provis is in her first Kraft tour final and McQuillan continues to Improve, and that is vital to their rankings and healthy. McQuillan said on Friday: "A lot of people have been rubbishing us. It would be good to prove them wrong." Masur said in Melbourne recently: "There are 14 million registered players in France; that's about our population." What he failed to add was that Sweden, which has produced Borg, Wilander, Edberg, Jarryd and others during the past 15 years, has a population of 8.6 million. Perhaps that is the answer. Borg obviously inspired the youth of Swe - final in Brisbane today. den; Navratilova and Lendl did the same in Czechoslovakia. Maybe the virtual elimination of grass courts in international tennis (Wimbledon remains) has had a much bigger effect than we believed. When Kooyong went the way of other grass-court tournaments, the National Tennis Centre and Rebound Ace proved far better choices in 1988 than those made by the Americans who gave us Flushing Meadow. But the change in Melbourne came at the cost of the surface that suited Australians best. Whatever the reasons, our fall from power has been spectacular. Consider these facts. Australians won the national title 14 times from 1960 to 1976. The best result we had during the '80s was Cash's five-set loss to Wilander in 1988. We have not had a finalist in the US men's title since Rosewall in 1974. Where are the Rockhamptons, Alburys and Barellans that gave us Laver, Smith and Goolagong? Australia has half a dozen players among the world's elite in golf, we're on the way back in swimming, and the national teams in cricket, hockey, netball, rugby union and squash are the equal of any In the world. Perhaps the team ethic has taken over. Or, Is the assembly line built on sports Institutes, Intensive coaching and science coming at the cost of natural flair? Perhaps we simply need a couple of new heroes, as Newcombe says. The chairman of Tennis Australia's player development board, Newcombe says he does not have the answer; he just hopes we can discover someone to penetrate the top 10 and provide the impetus Greg Norman gave golf. It would make a nice change to have an Australian to watch on the final day of a major event. You have much to answer for, Jimmy Connors. Fromberg begins fightback AUSTRALIAN Richard Fromberg began his climb back up the tennis world rankings with a three-set win over veteran American Scott Davis In the first qualifying round of the New South Wales Open at Sydney's White City yesterday. Fromberg, who has slipped more than 70 places in the rankings to 95 over the past year, temporarily lost the plot in the second set before recovering to win 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. The tall Tasmanian had to wait more than seven hours before tackling Davis, as wet weather delayed the start until 4.15 pm. Australians Wally Masur and Todd Woodbridge, who have received wildcards, face tough first-round assignments tomorrow, Woodbridge against top-seed and Wimbledon champion Michael Stlch, of Germany, and Masur against the eighth seed, American David Wheaton. The second seed, Ivan Lendl, might also have wished for a kinder draw. The American-based Czechoslovak is down to play big-serving Dutchman Richard Krajicek. The third seed, defending champ-Ion Guy Forget, of France, will open the tournament against American Richey Reneberg. The women's draw was hit yesterday by the unexpected withdrawal of sixth seed Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere. Officials last night still could not confirm the precise reason for the withdrawal of the Swiss Hopman Cup heroine, which necessitated a redraw of the 64-player event. Maleeva-Fragniere and her partner, Jakob Hlasek, clinched victory for Switzerland in the Hopman Cup by beating Czechoslovakia in the final in Perth on Friday night. Ivanisevic makes final despite pain TOP seed Goran Ivanisevic over came an elbow injury to quali fy for the final of the $US182,500 West End Men's Tennis Open at Memorial Drive in Adelaide last night. The tall, Croatian left-hander, who had been in doubt because of a recurrence of tennis elbow, dismissed unseeded American Bryan Shelton 6-4, 6-2 in the first semi-final. Ivanisevic will play the winner of last night's second semi-final between German sixth seed Carl-Uwe Steeb and Sweden's Christian Bergstrom. Bergstrom took the first set 7-6. Shelton was also inconvenienced when he twisted his left ankle during the first set. Serving at 2-4, he slipped trying to reach a drop shot and the match stopped while he was treated. In all, six minutes were lost, with Shelton waiting two minutes for the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) trainer to get on court. The 72nd-ranked American had his ankle heavily strapped and also took pain-killers. But that did not help him resist Ivanisevic's charge to the final. Ivanisevic said he did not enjoy the match, which was played under cold and windy conditions. Ivanisevic said of his injured elbow: "It was much better, I can serve, but it still hurts me a little." The 20-year-old said he was looking forward to a battle with a base-liner such as Steeb or Bergstrom after a stop-start affair with serve and volleyer Shelton. Shelton said he would need four or five days physiotherapy before knowing his chances of being okay for the Australian Open, starting in Melbourne on January 13.

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