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Graf Gains at A&P Tennis Classic

July 18, 1998

MAHWAH, N.J. (AP) _ In her first match since Wimbledon, Steffi Graf cruised to a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Mashona Washington on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the A&P Classic.

Graf, who lost to Natasha Zvereva in the third round at Wimbledon, needed only 54 minutes to defeat Washington in a match delayed two hours by rain. Coming off a recent year-long layoff from knee surgery, Graf showed no signs of rustiness in the first set, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before Washington held serve.

``I felt she was maybe a little nervous in the beginning and maybe made a few mistakes, but I thought I was playing solid,″ Graf said. ``But I made a couple more mistakes in the second set.″

Washington, 22, the younger sister of 1996 Wimbledon finalist MaliVai Washington, was a late injury replacement for Mirjana Lucic. Lucic pulled out of the exhibition event Thursday because a fever related to a case of the chicken pox earlier in the year.

Graf, a five-time A&P Classic champion, advances to play Fang Li of China in Saturday’s semifinals.

Second-seeded Amy Frazier was declared the winner by walkover in the final of the USTA Women’s Challenger when the top-seeded Li did not show up on time.

Frazier, in turn, turned down her automatic bid into the A&P Classic semifinals.

Li, the world’s 42nd-ranked women’s player, was scheduled to play Frazier in the 11:30 a.m. final, but did not arrive at the Crossroads Corporate Center until 1 p.m., because she thought the match was supposed to start at 2:30.

``I don’t know what happened today,″ said Li, who lives in Queens. ``I don’t know if it was I didn’t understand them or they didn’t understand me. Maybe I made the mistake. Maybe my English is not good. I don’t know who made the mistake.″

According to USTA Tour supervisor Billie Lipp, by tour rules, Li is allowed an extra 15 minutes after the match’s scheduled starting time to show up before she is disqualified. But, because the match was supposed to be taped for television, Li was allowed an extra 15 minutes before Frazier was declared the winner.

But Frazier, who won the A&P Classic in 1996, doesn’t want to play in the Classic this year because she wants to concentrate on doubles in the USTA Challenger, which conclude Sunday.

In fact, Frazier, 25, said she never knew about the Challenger’s link to the Classic until after she arrived at the event.

``No one asked me,″ she said. ``But it goes beyond that. I’ve played for two weeks in a row, my hands hurt, I have four tournaments this summer. There’s a lot going on, but I had no idea when I entered.″

According to tournament director John Korff and Lipp, however, all the players in the Challenger were notified by mail when they entered that the winner of the tournament would then play in the A&P Classic. Korff said he also called the agents of all the top players in the Challenger to make sure they were aware of what was going on.

In addition to the $8,800 she earned by winning the Challenger, Frazier would have also received between $4,000 and $5,000 for playing in the semifinals, Korff said. Li, who earned $4,400 for finishing second in the Challenger, agreed to take Frazier’s place in the A&P Classic semifinal.

Anna Kournikova, the No. 16 player in the world, was forced to pull out of the A&P Classic on Wednesday becuase of torn ligaments in her right thumb.

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