Martina Navratilova led the New Jersey Stars to a 28-25 overtime victory Sunday over the Idaho Sneakers in the finals of the World TeamTennis championships at Sacramento, Calif.
With courtside temperatures reaching 100 degrees, the Stars won a match that featured three tiebreakers. New Jersey won $40,000 and Idaho $25,000.World TeamTennis was founded by Billie Jean King and is played in the summer. The format has teams playing five sets: one each in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Points are awarded for each game won.
Navratilova and John De Jager fell in the final set 6-4 to Idaho's Rich Leach and Manon Bollegraf. Although New Jersey led 27-25, the match went into overtime until Idaho evened the score or New Jersey won a game. Navratilova served for the 28-25 victory.
The day started with Jon and Rick Leach fighting off a comeback by top ranked Brian Devening and De Jager with a 6-5 (5-3) win. Devening avenged the win with a 6-5 (5-2) victory over Jon Leach in men's singles.
Navratilova and Mariaan De Swardt then defeated Amy Frazier and Bollegraf 6-5 (5-1). Navratilova then increased the lead with a 6-3 win over Frazier.
At Carlsbad, Calif., Steffi Graf, playing her best tennis in months, routed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-2, 6-1 Sunday to win the $400,000 Toshiba Classic, her first tournament victory since May.
Graf, who failed to play up to her standards all week, finally had all elements of her game working in beating the world's No. 2 female player in 67 minutes.
"I think I was in control of the points," said Graf, the top-ranked woman. "I felt I was playing all the right shots when I needed to. I felt she couldn't hurt me."
The victory broke a three-month drought for Graf, who last won at the German Open in May. Since then, Graf lost in the semifinals of the French Open to Mary Pierce, and was beaten in the first round by Lori McNeil at Wimbledon.
"I think it helps me very much to have won this tournament," said Graf, who won $80,000. "The whole week gave me a lot to be ready for the U.S. Open. I think I'm on the right track."
Sanchez Vicario, who took home $32,000, fell behind early in the match and could never recover under Graf's relentless pressure. The 22-year-old Spaniard committed 26 forced errors to only seven for Graf.
"She didn't make many mistakes," said Sanchez Vicario. "I didn't have many chances to do very much."
The win was Graf's third over Sanchez Vicario in four meetings this year - including the finals of the Australian Open, and ran her career record to 24-6 over Sanchez Vicario. Sunday's win was also the second straight year that Graf beat Sanchez Vicario in the final here, winning last year, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
Graf wasted little time taking control. She hit a perfectly placed drop shot to close the first game at love. Graf then broke Sanchez Vicario on her first service game to go up, 2-0.
Sanchez Vicario, the French Open champion, broke back in the third game, but Graf wasn't worried.
"Even though she broke me back," Graf said. "I was playing good. After 3-1, 4-1, that's when I had the feeling that this would be my match."
Graf converted break points in the fourth and eighth games to close out the set, 6-2.
In the second set, Graf rolled to a 5-0 lead, and sealed the win when Sanchez Vicario hit a forehand long.
"She wasn't up to her level that she can play," Graf said.
Said Sanchez Vicario: "Sometimes it's hard because she's playing so well. It makes it hard because you're having to try different things that you're not used to."
During the week, Graf dropped two sets. That was not about to happen Sunday.
"In a way I'm surprised I played that well," Graf said, "because I haven't played that well the other days."
At Kitzbuehel, Austria, Goran Ivanisevic overcame a stout challenge from unseeded Fabrice Santoro, falling behind a 2-1 before recovering for a five-set victory Sunday in the singles final at the $410,000 EA Generali tournament.
Ivanisevic, the world's second-ranked player, won the first set 6-2. But a series of errors led to 4-6, 4-6 losses in the next two.
"I was trying to make fast points because my legs were getting tired," Ivanisevic said. "He was playing good."
But by the fourth set, the Croat felt better and was determined to turn the match around. He won 6-3. In the fifth set, with the Frenchman ahead 1-0 and the second-game score at 40-0, Ivanisevic it around en route to 6-2 clincher.
"I played pretty gutsy, played two aces and there was the deciding game of the match, and after that, I think he was gone mentally and he couldn't move anymore," Ivanisevic said.
At Prague, Czech Republic, Sergi Bruguera put an end to his domination by Andrei Medvedev with a victory Sunday in the singles final at the Czech Open clay-court tournament.
"Finally, I beat Andrei after losing to him three times," the Spaniard said after a 6-3, 6-4 victory in the $365,000 event.
Medvedev, of Ukraine, the more aggressive of the two, broke Bruguera in the third game and took a 3-1 lead early in the match.
But the first-seeded Spaniard broke back to 3-2 and thwarted Medvedev's attack with near-perfect baseline tennis, turning the set around to win 6-3.
With Medvedev up 1-0 and 30-15 in the second set, play was suspended for 15 minutes due to rain.
Bruguera then won the game, thanks to three unforced errors on the forehand side. He immediately broke his opponent and took a 3-1 lead with a love game on his serve.
The tournament's defending champion and arguably the world's best player on clay controlled the rest of the match, often capitalizing on Medvedev's unforced errors, and finished with a service winner.
"It was like playing against a wall and you very often lose in such cases," Medvedev quipped.