Anticipated Graf-Hingis rematch a reality No. 1 beats slow start; 15-year-old tops Novotna


NEW YORK -- Top seed Steffi Graf will get to see how 15-year-old Martina Hingis has matured this summer, when they meet in the women's semifinal. That hoped for clash was set up yesterday when Graf continued her tournament tradition of starting slowly and then coming back for a decisive, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Judith Wiesner, who was bidding to become the first unseeded women's player to reach the semifinals here in 20 years.

Then, in the afternoon, No. 16 seed Hingis added to her wins when she beat No. 7 Jana Novotna, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4. She is the first 15-year-old to reach the semifinals here since Jennifer Capriati in 1991 and is the third youngest in Open history.

During the Hingis-Novotna match, more than Novotna's pride was hurt yesterday. Linesperson Marylynn Baker of Annapolis was hit in the head by a Hingis forehand return in the second set. She was replaced shortly thereafter. Last night, a spokesman in the USTA's umpires office said Baker is fine.

Graf knows Hingis' power, having lost to Hingis at the Italian Open in Rome.

"I saw some of her match against Arantxa," said Graf. "She played some really great points in the third set and she seems to believe a lot more in herself, believes she can play and win against the top players."

Now comes the next test against Graf on the hard surface at the Open and it will be a test, given the way Graf stated her feelings yesterday.

"I'm not really happy about the way I'm playing at the start of matches," Graf said. "But as long as I'm pulling them out, it's OK. . . . I'd be terribly disappointed if I don't win this championship. Hey, I am trying my best out there. I can't ask anymore of myself."

Chang rolls past Sanchez

Second seed Michael Chang allowed Javier Sanchez to come back from two breaks down to force a fourth set in their quarterfinal match. But in the end, it was all Chang, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (7-2), 6-3. Chang next faces Andre Agassi in the semifinals.

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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