Steffi Graf's 31-match winning streak ended in a most uncharacteristic fashion - the world's top ranked woman player drove her usually lethal forehand volley into the net.
On the other side of the net, it was also a rare day for Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, who achieved only her third career victory over Graf to win the $300,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships on Sunday."I started using my mind more," said third-ranked Sabatini, 19, who picked up $60,000 for the 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory. "She started making mistakes. My game was bothering her . . . This is a very emotional moment for me."
Sabatini changed tactics after the first set and used deep top-spin groundstrokes to keep Graf pinned deep in the clay court during much of the 2 1/2-hour match.
"I was definitly not playing well," said Graf, who made 60 unforced errors. "My serve was terrible."
It was Graf's first defeat since Nov. 19, 1988, when she was beaten 6-3, 7-6 by Pam Shriver in the Virginia Slims Championships in New York to end a 46-match winning streak.
"I should have concentrated better in the second set," said Graf, 19, of West Germany. "She was trying to play very high shots and I tried to hit short. I wasn't playing very well, definitely for five games."
Sabatini, who was overpowered by Graf's strong baseline power in the first set, broke Graf's serve in the first game of the third set and made it stand up until Graf broke back in the 10th game to tie the score, 5-5.
It seemed Graf would steal the match, but Sabatini broke Graf's serve in a long game to go up. She then held on to win as Graf netted a forehand volley on match point.
"I had very big problems moving at five-all, or I think I would have won it," Graf said. "That's the reason I started coming to the net. I couldn't wait for her to keep hitting moon balls again."
Sabatini, who beat fourth-ranked Chris Evert in the final of the International Players Championships two weeks ago, knocked off No. 2 Martina Navratilova in Saturday's semifinals before stopping Graf on Sunday.
"If I want to be number one, I have to beat them many times," Sabatini said. "I beat Graf and I can do it again."
Sabatini also beat Graf in the semifinals of this tournament last year 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 before losing to Navratilova in the final.