WIMBLEDON, England -- Other seeds may have had their problems, but Arantxa Sanchez Vicario was single-minded yesterday, moving smoothly into tomorrow's scheduled women's final with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Meredith McGrath.
Just who Sanchez Vicario will play -- if the rains hold off -- is still unknown. The second women's semifinal was called because of darkness last night with No. 1 seed Steffi Graf and No. 12 Kimiko Date deadlocked after two sets.
Graf played to form in the opening set, winning easily, 6-2. But in the second, Date came alive, finding all the lines and angles to take it, 6-2.
"Date is a dangerous player," Sanchez Vicario said shortly after her match and before Graf and Date had made it through their opening set. "I think she can give Steffi a little bit of a tough time."
Sanchez Vicario had an easier time yesterday as her match went on because McGrath started having right-knee problems early on and they became progressively worse.
"I saw her problem, and I knew I just had to concentrate," said Sanchez Vicario. "I knew if I didn't, she might somehow start to get into the match and everything can turn around. So I just concentrate myself on trying to hit the ball earlier and doing my job and not thinking about her."
McGrath said she hyperextended her knee three weeks ago and has felt it slowly getting worse ever since.
"I don't want to pin the loss on an injury," she said. "I mean, Arantxa came out with her A game tonight, hitting the ball deep and passing me basically at will. And she served big. So I don't know that even being 100 percent would have done the job against her."
Pam Shriver celebrated her 34th birthday yesterday with mixed results. She and doubles partner Ros Nideffer lost their third-round match to No. 10 seeds Katrina Adams and Mariaan de Swardt, 6-1, 6-4.
The good news was that when the match was over, several fans began to serenade Shriver with "Happy Birthday" and the rest of the fans on Court 3 joined in after a little encouragement from Shriver, who waved her arms and did a little dance.
"It was nice," she said, allowing as to how she needed a little pick-me-up as she contemplated waiting the rest of the afternoon to find out if she and mixed-doubles partner Pat Galbraith would make it out to Court 1 before nightfall.
"Three out of four years I've lost matches here on my birthday," Shriver said. "The good news is I've still never lost twice on my birthday."
Getting it wrong
Predicting the weather in the British Isles has been a bit rough. The weathermen in England have had about as much luck lately as their counterparts in the United States.
The reason, said one London cabby: "They spend too much time looking at their computers and not enough time reading the signs. The way you're supposed to predict the weather is easy: You go down to the beach, pick up a bit of seaweed, hang it in your garage and check it each morning. If it's wet, it's going to rain. If it's dry, no rain."
Now what's so hard about that?
Henmania at end
Tim Henman lost yesterday to Todd Martin, but not before eliciting a lot of pleasure that has been reflected in the local papers: "Timbo" . . . "Terrible Tim" . . . "Tiger Tim" . . . "Goldhen Wonder" . . . "Plucky Tim" . . . "StupHENdous" . . . "Bold Henman" . . . "Bright Young Hope" . . . Coltish Henman" . . . "Rerun of Beatlemania? No, no, Henmania."
The combination of soccer's Euro Cup '96, the early loss of Andre Agassi and the default of Boris Becker in the first week took a toll on attendance. Despite the emergence of Henman, crowds are down a total of 20,403 from the 295,841 who attended the first 11 days of last year's tournament.
Not done yet
No. 13 seed Martin, like Richard Krajicek, is not satisfied with reaching the Wimbledon semifinals for a second time.
"I don't want to say it doesn't mean anything to me," Martin said. "But it's nice to be there at Wimbledon. But I've been to the finals of the Australian Open and lost. I think losing that final really made me want to win even more. I think there's no way in the world that I'd be satisfied with just making the semifinals."
Jim Pierce, the 60-year-old father of women's star Mary Pierce, told the tabloid Sun of London that he needs a 4,000-pound ($6,400) cancer operation. He said he has about $9 in the bank and is trying to contact Mary for help.
"I've left messages with her agent and her lawyer, but I haven't heard a thing," he was quoted as saying. "I hate to beg, but with her enormous wealth -- that I created for her -- I'm asking for loose change."
Pub Date: 7/05/96