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AP Was There: Graf beats Navratilova at Wimbledon again

AP Was There: Graf beats Navratilova at Wimbledon again

EDITOR’S NOTE — Tennis history is filled with wonderful rivalries, and so many are remembered because of matchups in Wimbledon finals. The Associated Press is republishing stories about a handful of such matches while the canceled grass-court Grand Slam tournament was supposed to be played. One memorable head-to-head rivalry was Steffi Graf vs. Martina Navratilova, who met in three consecutive Wimbledon finals from 1987-89. The following story, about their third title match there, was sent July 9, 1989. By RICK WARNER AP Tennis Writer Martina Navratilova lost and laughed. Steffi Graf won and cried. It was hard to tell the victor from the vanquished Sunday after Graf again foiled Navratilova’s bid for the ultimate Wimbledon record. Graf overpowered Navratilova in the final set to win her second straight women’s championship 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 on a history-making day at the All England Club. After halting Navratilova’s try for a record ninth Wimbledon singles title for the second year in a row, Graf sat in her sideline chair on Centre Court, bowed her head and sobbed. It was a highly unusual display of emotion for the 20-year-old West German, who came under fire for her icy reaction after sweeping the four Grand Slam titles last year. But after losing to teen-ager Arantxa Sanchez in the French Open final last month, Graf was determined to crush all challengers on Wimbledon’s grass courts. “I wanted it so badly that I put a little more pressure on myself than usual,” Graf said. “It’s an overwhelming feeling.” No one wanted another trophy more than Navratilova, who once again was stymied in her attempt to break a tie with Helen Wills Moody and become the all-time leader in Wimbledon singles crowns. “Basically, I got served off the court,” Navratilova said. “I just couldn’t get the ball back in that last set.” Boris Becker completed the first West German double at Wimbledon by routing Stefan Edberg 6-0, 7-6, 6-4 in the most lopsided men’s final since John McEnroe allowed Jimmy Connors only four games in 1984. It was only the third time since the tournament moved to its present site in 1922 that both singles finals were held on the same day. The women’s championship was postponed a day by rain, making it the first one ever held on Sunday. It also was the first time in the modern era that the same women met in the finals three years in a row. Last year, Navratilova won the first set and led 2-0 in the second before Graf won 12 of the last 13 games. This time, Graf started strongly on a cool, cloudy day. But Navratilova rebounded after blowing a 5-2 lead in the second set and won the tiebreaker 7-1 when Graf netted a service return. Navratilova was pumped up and sprinted to the sideline, anxious to start the third set. But Graf was ready, too. Dominating with her speedy serve and laser-like forehand, Graf broke at love for a 3-1 lead when Navratilova missed three consecutive volleys. The West German went on to win the final three games, sealing the victory with her fifth ace. By then, Graf was playing so well she was almost giddy. “I had such a good feeling in the third set,” she said. “I had to tell myself, ‘Come on, concentrate’ so I wouldn’t start laughing.” Surprisingly, Navratilova was the one laughing after pushing Graf to her longest match (92 minutes) of the tournament. “Today was fun,” Navratilova said. “I enjoyed the hell out of it. I’m disappointed because I didn’t win, but I did everything I could in my preparation. It’s not like I wish I had done this or I had done that.” Navratilova skipped the entire European clay-court season to concentrate on Wimbledon, and dropped only one set in 18 matches on English grass en route to the final. But the 32-year-old American couldn’t cope with the power and speed of Graf in their first official meeting since last year’s title match. “I played a solid match, but I didn’t play great. And that’s what it would have taken to win,” Navratilova said. Graf said her loss to Sanchez in Paris — only her second of the year and seventh in the last three years — served as an inspiration. “I wanted to show I can do better,” Graf said. “I knew I could do it, but I had to prove it on the court.” Just barely out of her teens, Graf has already won seven Grand Slam titles — the 1987 French Open, the 1989 Australian Open and all four major titles last year. Navratilova hasn’t won a Grand Slam singles title since beating Graf at the 1987 U.S. Open, but felt she came close on Sunday. “I had a chance,” Navratilova said. “I had the momentum after I won the tiebreaker, but then Steffi starting serving so well. I thought she played better than last year — much better.” After losing the first set, Navratilova broke Graf in the second game of the second set and raced to a 3-0 lead with an ace. Graf came back to force the tiebreaker, but a combination of her errors and Navratilova winners evened the match. Trailing 3-1 in the final set, Navratilova had one last chance to get back in the match. But she sent a backhand approach over the baseline on break point and netted two shots that allowed Graf to hold for 4-1. “That was the right shot to come in on,” Navratilova said of the break point. “I just overhit it.” Graf received $282,150 and the victor’s silver plate, which she held aloft for the cheering crowd at Centre Court. One fan who had shouted encouragement to Graf during the match got a close-up view of his hero when she walked over to the standing-room section and showed him the trophy. “The guy was screaming after every point,” Graf said. “I just wanted to know who he was.” Two doubles titles were also decided Sunday. John Fitzgerald of Australia and Anders Jarryd of Sweden beat top-seeded Americans Rick Leach and Jim Pugh 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 in the men’s final. Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia downed the Soviet team of Larisa Savchenko and Natalia Zvereva 6-1, 6-2 for the women’s championship.

Ravens quarterback cancels Florida event amid virus surge

Ravens quarterback cancels Florida event amid virus surge

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has canceled his annual “Funday with LJ” event in Florida due to surging coronavirus cases in the state and strict gathering limits. Jackson's third annual event was set to be held Saturday and Sunday in his hometown of Pompano Beach, Florida, but a spokesperson told news outlets Tuesday that the event was canceled. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in Pompano Beach due to pandemic. Instead of allowing a few people to attend the event, Jackson decided to cancel it. Jackson shared a flyer of the event on Instagram Monday, advertising flag football and water slides. It also said adults must wear face masks and waivers must be signed for children to participate. The event was scheduled to start a week after Florida reported a single-day record of 11,445 cases. On Tuesday, Florida confirmed 7,347 new cases, bringing the total since March 1 to 213,794. Another 63 people died, bringing the total to 3,943. The 45 deaths per day averaged over the last week is a 50% jump since three weeks ago. Statewide, 380 patients were reported as newly admitted to hospitals, a single-day record. ___ Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

Yanks' Cole learns safety-protocol lesson in 1st intrasquad

Yanks' Cole learns safety-protocol lesson in 1st intrasquad

Gerrit Cole couldn't have expected the New York Yankees to take the ball away from him just one batter into his first home start in the Bronx. But the team's new $324 million ace learned the hard way about one of baseball’s new coronavirus safety protocols Tuesday night during an intrasquad game at Yankee Stadium. Cole allowed a home run to the second hitter he faced, Miguel Andújar, one pitch after being forced to give up the ball he used to strike out leadoff man Mike Tauchman. “I liked that ball,” Cole grumbled on the mound. Among the safety steps instituted by Major League Baseball for this virus-shortened season is that pitchers can’t reuse a baseball once it has been touched by other players. After Cole struck out Tauchman swinging, catcher Gary Sánchez whipped the ball around the infield — a customary ritual that’s frowned upon in MLB’s 2020 operations manual. Cole shot the dugout a confused look when coaches called for the ball. Andújar crushed the next pitch into the empty right field seats. “We weren’t exactly sure if we were supposed to keep it or not,” Cole said. “We kind of made a joke about it. Looked like I probably should have kept it.” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said the club is still trying to nail down some of the protocols in MLB's 101-page manual — one reason the team is scheduling so many of these intrasquads early in preseason camp. He said he wasn't sure if Sánchez was supposed to throw the ball around the infield or if umpires would make them throw out the baseball during the regular season if he did. “I have to get to the bottom of that,' Boone said. Otherwise, Cole’s first time toeing the Yankee Stadium rubber in pinstripes went smoothly. Cole faced a Yankees B team in an intrasquad game that aired locally. He pitched five innings of one-run ball, striking out six and allowing one hit and two walks. The 29-year-old tried to mimic as much of his pregame routine as possible, figuring out how to adjust to account for social distancing and the missing adrenaline that usually comes from a stadium full of fans. “This is the first kind of real, most game-like scenario I’ve been put in with it,” he said. 'It was certainly different, but everything's different. I didn’t have trouble focusing tonight, so I’m just going to try to get in my space and do what I do.” Cole is expected to start on opening night for New York against the World Series champion Nationals in Washington on July 23. SUBWAY SERIES STUFF The Yankees are set to visit the crosstown Mets on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 next season, according to a person familiar with the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Major League Baseball has not yet released next season’s schedule. The Yankees and Mets won’t have to wait that long to see each other. The teams announced Tuesday they will play preseason exhibition games July 18 at Citi Field and July 19 at Yankee Stadium as they prepare for the start of a pandemic-shortened 60-game regular season. The Philadelphia Phillies and new manager Joe Girardi — formerly the Yankees' skipper — will travel to the Bronx for an exhibition game July 20. TRAINER'S ROOM Aside from INF DJ LeMahieu and RHP Luis Cessa — both isolating at home following positive coronavirus tests — RHP Jonathan Loaisiga is the only Yankees player yet to clear intake screening. The hard thrower from Nicaragua was delayed getting to New York and is awaiting results from a test taken Monday. ... C Kyle Higashioka was scratched from the intrasquad game with a sore neck. ... OF Clint Frazier has been limited to DH duties after dealing with “a little foot issue” over the past two months, Boone said. Frazier is running and doing outfield drills. “We're just slow-playing him,” Boone said. ___ Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports