For once, history was not on Steffi Graf's side.
Graf's hopes of becoming the only woman to win the Grand Slam twice were erased in the French Open final Saturday by Arantxa Sanchez.Instead, it was the 17-year-old Spaniard who made history by becoming the youngest woman to win the French title. She also became the first Spanish woman ever to win a Grand Slam tournament.
Hustling all over the court and forcing an ailing Graf into 68 backcourt errors, the seventh-seeded Sanchez won 7-6, 3- 6, 7-5 in two hours and 58 minutes.
"This is a wonderful day for me," said Sanchez, who had not won a set off Graf in their three previous matches. "I beat the No. 1 in the world. I fought for three hours to win the tournament of my life, the one I've been dreaming about."
On Sunday, Michael Chang of the United States can match Sanchez's achievement by becoming the youngest male winner of the title.
Chang, who meets Stefan Edberg in the final, already is the youngest male finalist in any Grand Slam tournament at 17 years and 3 1/2 months.
Graf's loss came on the same court where she captured her first Grand Slam tournament two years ago, beating Martina Navratilova in the final.
Last year Graf became only the fifth person in history to sweep all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same calendar year and she capped achievement by winning the Olympic gold medal in Seoul.
Graf, who won the Australian Open in January for her fifth straight Grand Slam title, was heavily favored to win in Paris and reach the halfway mark toward a second consecutive Grand Slam.
"I wasn't thinking about that at all during this match," Graf said. "It's just so hard to win four tournaments on different surfaces. To do it twice in a row is practically impossible."
When the two-time defending champion netted a backhand on match point, Sanchez fell on her back on the Center Court at Roland Garros Stadium and burst into tears.
Sanchez had trailed 3-5 in the final set but won the last four games of the match in fiesty style, pumping her fists and shouting "vamos" _ let's go _ after winners and smiling even when things didn't go her way.
Graf, who committed twice as many errors as Sanchez, said she was suffering from menstrual cramps.
"I felt weak at the end," said Graf, who ran off the court and into the locker room during the final changeover. "I started to have cramps."
Graf, who will be 20 next week, also said she suffered from food poisoning earlier in the week after eating a pizza.
"I couldn't eat the next day," she said. "I lost three kilos (6.6 pounds) in the last few days. That didn't help either."
But Graf said Sanchez was a deserving champion.
"She was rally playing some unbelievable shots, close to the lines and hitting the lines," Graf said. "She's a really nice person. She's always very nice. I feel good for her."
Sanchez showed her claws throughout the match, sprinting around the court for spectacular gets, throwing her body into every shot and slugging her groundstrokes with as much power as Graf.
The Spaniard even hit more winners than Graf, 23 to 20.
The Spaniard started cautiously in the first set, saving a succession of break points in her early service games to stay even. Then she broke Graf to go up 3-2, saved five break points for 4-2 and went out to a 5-3 lead.
Graf won the next three games and had two set points at 6 -5 but she wasted both with errors on her slice backhand.
In the tiebreaker, Graf staved off a set point at 6-5 with a forehand passing shot. But two points later she sailed a forehand long and Sanchez won the tiebreaker 8-6.
Graf, cutting down on her errors and hitting her forehand with more confidence, dominated the second set, breaking Sanchez three times.
But Sanchez opened the third set by breaking Graf and moved out to a 3-1 lead. At one point, Sanchez kissed her racket after hitting a stretch forehand volley that dropped over the net for a winner.
But Sanchez began committing a rash of errors and Graf capitalized on them, winning the next four games for a 5-3 lead, one game from winning the match.