Sabine Appelmans is probably best known as an Australian Open Quarter finalist and is a former Belgian Fed Cup captain. In an exclusive interview, she spoke Betway on her toughest opponents on the track. The Belgian’s best performance on the tennis court was probably the last 8 of the Happy Slam in 1997 in the era of Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Steffi Graf. Some of the all time great of the game. As a proud Belgian, she also represented her country at three Olympic Summer Games that reached the quarterfinals in Barcelona in 1992 and played doubles at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
The Australian Open is the first grand slam of the year and is always played in baking hot conditions in Melbourne. The two-week Grand Slam event really tests all the players not only with the heat, but also the fact that it is so early in the season and many top players have short match practice. Sabine Appelmans seems to have a strong record in the Australian Open, as she was apparently able to perform so quickly in the season of her best tennis down under. In her outstanding 1997 season in which she reached the quarterfinals, she played amazing tennis on her way to an outstanding 4th round victory against the Spaniard Conchita Martinez, then 3rd. In the next round, she fell to eventual finalist Mary Pierce in three close-fight sets.
Appelmans has won 7 WTA Tour titles during her career and her rankings peaked among the top 20 for a period that selected her high in grand slam. In the time of Graf, Seles, Hingis, Davenport and many others it is no small feat. The depth in women’s play back then in the 90’s was as deep as it is now. The Australian Open is very open in 2022, will Ash Barty will finally lift her home’s grand slam, will Naomi Osaka return, what about Leyla Fernandez, Emma Raducanu or others who go all the way? The 1997 Australian Open remains her only quarter-final Grand Slam appearance, a season in which she completed her best year-end list of 16 in November 1997.
Appelmans and Monami were rural women and knew each other inside and out. Also being close to the rankings has always made any encounters incredibly difficult. As every tennis player will tell you, it’s really hard to play against your friend and these two were no different.
“It was not always easy to play someone else from Belgium and someone with whom you are very close.”
Seles was a tennis icon from the 1990s. She was a winning machine and extremely efficient in what she did. What made her stand out was her double double hand shots on both the front and back hands. Seles was a top player and won many tournaments; but for the incident in Stuttgart she might have dominated the match. Despite this, Seles will always fight with hand and tooth for every point and nothing has ever been given to her opponent. Needless to say, Seles was a big contender against Sabine. Despite the fact that Sabine really enjoyed the challenge of playing her, Sabine unfortunately never managed to beat the American.
We all know what a complete player Steffi Graf was like. She had every stroke in the game and a devastating forehand where she could hit from anywhere on the court.
“She was like an icon to me, I looked up at her”
Appelmans tells us about her incredible forehand and footwork. The first time the couple met Graf was in great shape and taught her opponent a tennis lesson. She unfortunately only won one game. A disciplinary experience but one that Sabine obviously learned so much about the game.