Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
A Decade Of Winning
In 1991 Sanchez Vicario returned to the finals of the French Open by defeating Graf in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-0, but lost to No. 1 ranked Seles in the finals, 6-3, 6-4. With Sanchez Vicario's help, Spain won its first Federation Cup championship in 1991. The following year the Olympics were held in Barcelona, and both Sanchez Vicario and her brother Emilio played for Spain. She won a bronze medal in the singles and a silver medal, with countrywomen Conchita Martinez, in doubles. In the same year she managed to upset Seles to win the Canadian Open and advanced to the finals of the U.S. Open for the first time, defeating Graf in the quarterfinals, but lost in the finals to Seles. That same year she won ten doubles titles, including her first Grand Slam doubles win at the Australian Open.
Sanchez Vicario reached the semifinals of three of the four Grand Slam events (Australian Open, French Open, and U.S. Open) and made the quarterfinals of 17 of 18 singles tournaments in 1993. She ended the year with a 77-14 singles record, four singles titles, four doubles titles, the Australian Open mixed doubles title, the U.S. Open women's doubles title, and a second Federation Cup title. In 1994 Sanchez Vicario claimed two more Grand Slam singles titles. She beat hard-hitting Mary Pierce, 6-4, 6-4, to retake the French Open title and overcame Graf, 1-6, 7-6, 6-4, to win her first and only U.S. Open title.
Briefly holding the No.1 spot in 1995 in both singles and doubles, Sanchez Vicario lost to Pierce in the Australian Open singles finals. She also reached the finals at the French Open and Wimbledon, but on both occasions fell to Graf. Their battle at Wimbledon became known as one of the best women's finals ever to be played. Tied at a set apiece, with the score was 5-5 in the deciding third set, Sanchez Vicario and Graf battled through one 20-minute, 32-point game that finally awarded Graf her sixth Wimbledon title. Despite her eventual loss, Sanchez Vicario was highly praised for her aggressive, tenacious play.
In both 1996 and 1997 Sanchez Vicario reached the finals of the French Open and Wimbledon, but failed to walk away with another Grand Slam title. In 1997 her best finish was the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, but in 1998 she earned her third French Open championship and fourth Grand Slam title, defeating Seles in the finals. Although this was to be her last Grand Slam title, Sanchez Vicario continued to find her way through the early rounds of most of her matches. In 2000 she played in her fifth Grand Slam event at the French Open. She reached the semifinals, marking the fourteenth time in fifteen years of playing at Roland Garros that she made it into the quarterfinals or better.
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