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21 August 2001 Mary Joe Fernandez vs Gabriela Sabatini

Page history last edited by Archer844 9 years, 5 months ago

Tennis Classics. 1990. Monte Carlo.


Posted by Simguy on 8/21/2001, 7:39 am

Before: one of the best all-around athletes ever to play tennis, Gabriela Sabatini was also one of the most frustrating talents ever to box. Devastating one moment, inexplicably timid the next--Sabatini would be the post girl for inconsistency in a career that saw her beat every name in the game, lose to almost everyone at one time or another, and struggle in the most unexpected ways. Mary Joe Fernandez was perhaps the polar opposite of Sabatini--solid, reliable--MJ’s dogged determination and grinding consistency often made up for her brittle physique and lack of one-punch power. Fought in 1990 at Monte Carlo under a bright Mediterranean sun--Gaby in red sports bra, black spandex mid-thigh shorts under a red loincloth skirt, ponytail, took on Fernandez in pale blue sports bra, yellow track sprinters trunks and ponytail.

During R1: Fernandez came out predictably--gloves at her eyebrows, stomping forward like a fencer, shooting her jab at Gaby’s mouth, shooting the straight right hand down into gaby’s body in a serviceable imitation at Merqui Sosa. Sabatini wilted under the stubborn attack, immediately backing to the ropes as Mary Joe got big on the bigger girl. Fernandez went to work with side to side hooks against Gaby’s hips, then came up with middle with digging right hands to the pit of the stomach that already put a tremble on Gaby’s lips. Sabatini for her part would cuff and put-put at Fernandez’s ears, laying well back into the ropes with her hands down to slip head punches contrary to every boxing text on the planet. Sabatini’s athleticism allowed her to break the rules as Fernandez couldn’t land much above the neck, but the tanned brunette wasn’t shy about taking what was offered. Sabatini finished up the neck, but the tanned brunette wasn’t shy about raking what was offered. Sabatini finished up the round grimacing from MJ’s determined waist work as Fernandez punished her girl from bell to bell.

R2: Same scenario--Gaby giving away her natural advantages by backing up, allowing Mary Joe to beat the midsection and ribs with typical tenacity. Fernandez had some luck to the face this round as well, steadying the weaving brunette with a left in the chest, then clocking over the top with clouting right hands. At the break--Gaby’s corner would beg her to “fight this girl--she can’t hurt you!” as Sabatini sat glumly on her stool.

R3: Fernandez continued to roll, slowly but surely pushing Sabatini downhill. Gaby stayed off the ropes this round, but did nothing more than clinch around Mary’s neck--Fernandez dutifully plugged lefts and rights into the brunette’s tanned midriff to put picturesque looks of pouting hurt on Gaby’s expressive face. Mary Joe’s pressure beat Sabatini all around the  ring--the big woman on her heels, clinching, running, but rarely punching. As Gabriela returned to her corner, she complained of body ache, causing her trainer to slap her lightly on both cheeks.,

R4: Sabatini came out bouncing, finally using her legs, giving Mary Joe a little lateral movement and as Fernandez walkled her down, Gaby stopped, slung a hard right hand flat to the pit of MJ’s belly and FRENANDEZ WENT DOWN! MJ on her hands and knees was ruined, gasping for breath like a boated bass as Sabatini sauntered to a neutral corner. Gutty Mary Joe beat the count, but she was crippled and now Sabatini came on like a freight train. Long and loose with her arms, Gabriela bounced in and out, lashing and licking lefts and rights up into Mary Joe’s throbbing midsection or clouted down upon the stricken brunette’s head as Fernandez bowed forward. A crashing right to the back of Mary’s head dropped her to all fours once again, and again, heart alone allowed Fernandez to beat the count. All Gaby the rest of the way as she stepped with MJ, looped and slung punches, keeping the hurting brunette at arms reach and beating her mercilessly along the ropes. Busted up and gutshot, Fernandez wandered sleepily to her corner as Sabatini had evened up the cards with typical sudden flare.

R5: Mary Joe grimly returned to her plodding offense, jabbing high, dropping right hands low, but Sabatini had found her groove. Dancing left and right, Sabatini would bring punches off her thighs to poke up the middle, or suddenly swing her whole body to the side to clap a wide punch against Fernandez head--the motion similar to Gaby’s moon ball shot from the baseline. Fernandez couldn’t get back on Sabatini’s chest as the whipping haymakers continued to crash down and midway through--Sabatini bending back wih her hands down got MJ to overextend and made her pay with a counter left uppercut on the chin, dropping MJ to her knees for the third time in the fight. Mary Joe was badly hurt at this point, legs knock-kneed with exhaustion as she fought her way to her feet, shaking off  the ref in order to continue.

R6: Gabriela backed away from Mary Jo, hands down, weaving her torso back and side to side as Fernandez missed half a dozen chopping punches. Drawing MJ in, Gaby suddenly launched forward to walk Fernandez into another gorgeous right hand to the abdomen, crumpling Fernandez with a sobbing groan and dropping her to her hands and knees for the fourth time. Incredibly Fernandez would get to her feet, but as the ref prompted her to take a step forward, he waved the fight off as Mary’s locomotion was horribly disoriented. TKO6 Gabrielle Sabatini.

After: This fight showed Sabatini at her mercurial best, or worst depending upon your point of view. Against a bigger puncher, Sabatini’s lack of aggression early, combined with her flopping defense would have spelled disaster, but as she would so many times in her career, Sabatini turned things around and looked like a world-beater in bludgeoning Mary Joe Fernandez into defeat. For plucky Mary Joe, the fight was also painfully typical--the kid with no quit, the hardest working woman in tennis would often come up short against bigger, stronger athletes, but as in this case, MJ made this earn it.

Reposted by Archer 12/10/11.

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