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Graf, 19, Leads the Teen Scene in Women's Semifinals

June 08, 1989|THOMAS BONK

PARIS — Youth is the common denominator today in the women's semifinals at the French Open.

Steffi Graf, 19, is the oldest of the four players who will try to reach Saturday's singles final.

Graf, the world's No. 1 women's player, is trying to win her third straight championship here and her sixth consecutive Grand Slam title.

Graf, who will be 20 next Wednesday, has lost only 13 games in the tournament, fewer than any player.

Her opponent is 15-year-old Monica Seles of Yugoslavia. Appearing in only her sixth professional tournament and first Grand Slam, the Florida-based Seles is the youngest woman semifinalist in Grand Slam history.

Arantxa Sanchez of Spain and Mary Joe Fernandez of Miami, 17-year-olds who also are making their debuts in a Grand Slam semifinal, will meet in the second match.

Sanchez, who has reached the semifinals of all eight clay-court tournaments she has played this year, has improved her ranking from No. 18 to No. 10.

Fernandez missed her high school graduation ceremonies Wednesday. She would have been sixteenth-seeded here last year, but she tore ligaments in a toe in the European Open at Geneva and had to withdraw.

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