1990 – 1991, Australian Open

Australian Open, Melbourne
January 15, 1990; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $1,462,000; Surface – Hard

The tournament is associated with John McEnroe’s default – the first Grand Slam disqualification in the Open era. Boris Becker’s 18-match winning streak at majors was snapped by a rejuvenated Mats Wilander, for whom it was a ‘swan song’ though. In some sense we can relate it also to Ivan Lendl; the Czechoslovak defended his title, but left the throne a few months later. 19-year-old Pete Sampras, won the longest Australian Open match at the time, and proclaimed himself as a real deal.
The compilation based on articles written by the Associated Press (except the final).
All scorelines
First round: AP

Pete Sampras counts his youth an advantage in his ascent through the tennis rankings. “I’m just going to slowly but surely work my way up the rankings. I didn’t expect to be in the top 10 when I was 18,” said the Californian, after notching the Australian Open’s first major upset with a record-sampras_ao90setting 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 4-6, 7-5, 12-10 victory Monday against No. 6 Tim Mayotte. The four-hour, 59-minute marathon eclipsed by eight minutes the mark for the tournament’s longest match, set by Yannick Noah and Roger Smith in 1988. While fellow U.S. teens Andre Agassi, 19, and Michael Chang, 17 (both didn’t play at AO ’90), already have skyrocketed to fame, fortune and top-10 status, Sampras has made significant but gradual progress in their shadows. His Association of Tennis Professionals ranking is No. 56, a jump of 39 spots from his rookie showing in 1988. “I’m just in the back and just playing tennis,” said Sampras, who next faces Jordi Arrese of Spain. Sampras is not jealous of the rapid success achieved by Chang and Agassi. “I think I will overtake them because I haven’t played my best tennis as a professional,” said Sampras, who ousted defending champion Mats Wilander in the second round of the U.S. Open last year. “I will probably play my best tennis in my mid-20s with my big breakthrough when I’m 20 to 21,” Sampras said. “My time will come.”… he was so right :) In the end, it was Mayotte who blinked first, double-faulting twice on the final two points – the second one as Sampras showed savvy gamesmanship by standing 2 feet (1 meter) inside the baseline. The victory over Mayotte was the second in a week by the 56th-ranked Sampras, who beat him in a tune-up tournament in Sydney (7-6, 6-2). Mayotte asked for and received a break in play with Sampras leading 4:1* in the fifth set. When they resumed, Mayotte evened the match and pushed it into extra games since there are no tiebreakers in the fifth set. Sampras smiled a lot during the match, but by the end the expression had turned to a tired grimace, his tongue out as he gasped for breath. “That double-fault on match point was a relief,” Sampras said. “It may not be the most elegant thing you may see, but I don’t think this tournament is about elegance,” Ivan Lendl said after blasting Jim Pugh 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. “This tournament is about doing your job, and the hat helps me do the job.” Boris Becker, in eager pursuit of a third straight Grand Slam title, is worried about peaking too soon in the Australian Open after flexing his muscles in a first-round showpiece. Becker pummeled travel-weary Paul Haarhuis 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 today, just a few hours after the Dutchman arrived from New Zealand following visa difficulties. Haarhuis, who upset John McEnroe in the second round of the U.S. Open last fall, never had a chance against the Becker onslaught. Becker, the Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, said the McEnroe upset was on his mind. “It’s the reason why I played very hard in the first round, which is not normal for me,” he said. “In a Grand Slam, you can’t play too well too early. You have to wait a little bit. There’s a fine line between not playing too good and playing too bad. If I want to do good in a Grand Slam, I have to peak the last three days. If you peak too early, then you might not be able to peak again.” (that’s interesting remark) While Becker looked sharp, Stefan Edberg and McEnroe issued warnings that they might be ready to stop him as he goes after Lendl’s Australian title and No. 1 ranking. The soft-spoken but confident Edberg, 1985 and 1987 Australian Open champion, won his first-round match Tuesday and proclaimed himself ready to challenge No. 1 Lendl and No. 2 Becker for the top spot in men’s tennis. “I see myself there,” said the No. 3 Edberg, whose highest ranking was No. 2 in 1987. “I feel strongly that I can come back to challenge.” Edberg beat Swedish-born Johan Anderson, who lives in Australia, 7-6(1), 6-3, 6-4, in a first round match on center court just before Becker took on Haarhuis. McEnroe made his debut on center court earlier in the day and came away making a similar warning that Lendl and Becker were not the only players edberg_ao90who could win the tournament. McEnroe was a bit louder and brasher, especially after breezing through the first round. Unfortunately for him, they won’t all be against opponents like Frenchman Thierry Tulasne, ranked 114 spots lower than the No. 4 McEnroe. Unlike Lendl, a dedicated baseliner, and Becker, a hard-charging serve-and-volleyer, Edberg and McEnroe share a taste for the more subtle aspects of tennis. McEnroe’s deft touch at the net, sweeping hard serves and keen anticipation all were evident in his 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Tulasne. Tulasne, ranked higher than McEnroe when the American slumped to No. 14 in 1986, is more of a clay court specialist and less comfortable on the hard courts here. “Tulasne had an off day,” McEnroe said. “He didn’t put too much on the ball. It was just like playing Ping Pong. If I could play that style every match, I’d bet my life savings every time.” McEnroe, coming off an exhibition tournament victory over Edberg, thinks he has a chance of winning here, especially if the weather stays as cool as it was today. “I still think I’m a longshot to win this tournament,” he said. “It takes an awful lot to win a major tournament. If I thought about all it took, I’d psyche myself out.” McEnroe hasn’t won a Grand Slam event since winning Wimbledon for the third time and the U.S. Open for the fourth time in 1984. “This tournament has become more important to me because I know I don’t have too much time left,” said McEnroe, who turns 31 next month. He’s never won the Australian Open. In other first-round matches today, No. 5 Aaron Krickstein beat Italy’s Gianluca Pozzi 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4, 7-5; No. 8 Mats Wilander of Sweden beat Australian Richard Fromberg 7-6(5), 7-5, 7-5; and No. 9 Andres Gomez of Ecuador beat Australian Darren Cahill, a 1988 U.S. Open semifinalist, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. No. 10 Carl-Uwe Steeb, who beat Becker last week in Sydney, lost to Veli Paloheimo of Finland 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2, 6-2. No. 11 Andrei Chesnokov beat Australian Mark Kratzmann 3-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-2. No. 12 Yannick Noah of France struggled past Yugoslav Goran Prpic 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 4-6, 7-5; and No. 15 Thomas Muster beat West German Pavel Vojtisek 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Second round: AP

mcenroe_ao90_John McEnroe, looking less like a long-shot every day, sounded gleeful as he described how he reduced his second Australian Open victim to a state of confusion and frustration. In diabolical detail, McEnroe recounted the 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 demise today of Austria’s Alex Antonitsch, who played him much tougher in Montreal last summer (7-5, 2-6, 6-3). “He became very, very shaky,” McEnroe said after the 78-minute mismatch. “His forehand volley went completely astray. He had every sign of a guy who became totally confused and frustrated. He tried to hit the ball hard, then he tried to hit it soft, then a drop shot. So I just kept telling myself that I was doing the right thing.” McEnroe, who has lost only eight games in two matches, was doing everything right. Forehands and backhands kissed the lines. Volleys bounced away from Antonitsch at impossible angles. Eleven aces left the Austrian staring helplessly. At one point, at 0/40 in the seventh game of the second set, Antonitsch even tried to sneak by with an underhand serve. “It was a sign of frustration,” McEnroe said, adding that other players, including himself, might in the future try the tactic made famous by Michael Chang in the French Open last summer. “It worked, because I won the next three games.” said Ivan Lendl, the men’s defending champion and top seed, had another ho-hum day in his outdoor office as he reached the third round with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Spain’s Tomas Carbonell. Yannick Noah is back in all his glory and threatening to crash a party that seemed reserved for the usual big names in tennis. Diving and leaping, his dreadlocks flying wildly, Noah’s resurgence is sending a buzz through the Australian Open equal to excitement about the rejuvenation of McEnroe. Noah, a soft-spoken Frenchman with a powerful serve and an acrobatic net game, was electrifying in his 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-3 victory over aggressive, hard-hitting Ronald Agenor of Haiti. Boris Becker, wilting a little in the 108-degree heat on court, barely held off Scott Davis to reach the third round Thursday in the Australian Open. Becker, the No. 2 seed seeking his third straight Grand Slam title after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, beat last week’s New Zealand Open champion 6-3, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-2. “I thought I served very well today,” Becker said. “It was hard to see the ball in the sun. It’s hot out there. It’s not easy playing under those conditions, but it’s the same for both players.” Davis, ranked 38th and from Largo, Fla., had Becker talking to himself and grunting loudly in the third set. But the West German settled down in the fourth, wore Davis down with his power and took the match. Sweden’s Stefan Edberg, third seed among the men, beat West German Patrick Kuhnen 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. Australians celebrated the victory of native son Mark Woodforde over No. 11 Andrei Chesnokov of the Soviet Union 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. Unseeded Jonas Svensson of Sweden knocked out American Jim Courier, the 14th seed, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Austria’s Thomas Muster, the men’s 15th seed, beat Christo van Rensburg of South Africa 1-6, 7-5, 7-5, 2-6, 8-6 in a nearly four-hour match. Aaron Krickstein, a 16-year-old phenomenon when he cracked the top 100 in 1983, is still chasing his first Grand Slam title and trying to get into the upper echelon of players. Mats Wilander, 25, knows what it’s like to be No. 1, to win an Australian Open, a French Open, a U.S. Open. He did it all in 1988 – and lost it all last year. But they operate now in the shadows of Lendl, Becker, Edberg and McEnroe, capable of beating any of them but more often krickstein_ao90losing to them in the big matches. Krickstein, the son of a doctor and grandson of a rabbi, is ranked No. 7 in the world, a fine accomplishment but short of his dream of being No. 1. Soft-spoken and easy-going, Krickstein doesn’t mind laboring in relative obscurity and letting the pressure fall on others. “I can understand why people wouldn’t say I’m a threat to win the tournament – I’ve never got even to a final of a major“, he said yesterday after reaching the third round of the Australian by beating Ramesh Krishnan 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Wilander, a Swede who has homes in Greenwich and Monaco, says he just wants to “get back to scratch,” to find the winning formula after a year of injuries, aimlessness on the court and personal problems. After beating Canada’s Martin Wostenholme 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 to reach the third round, Wilander proclaimed himself more confident. “I sort of lost trust in my baseline game,” he said. “It was pretty bad, I think, but I’ve got it now.” Among the men posting second-round victories on Wednesday were Pete Sampras, who outlasted Spain’s Jordi Arrese 0-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3; and Andrei Cherkasov of the Soviet Union, a 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, 6-0 winner over American Glenn Layendecker.

Third round: AP

Boris Becker, seeking his third Grand Slam tournament title in a row, beat Olivier Delaitre of France, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. “The court is very sticky, and when you’re a little tired and just hanging in there, that’s when your ankle can go,” Becker said. “I’ve had too many problems in the past. I’m taping everything I have to tape.” Mark Woodforde, leading the 2nd set 5:4, after American David Wheaton won the first set 6-3, sprained his right ankle on a different court at the 3-year-old National Tennis Center. The courts are spongy, Rebound Ace hard surfaces and do not have a history of producing injuries. Woodforde was hitting a forehand from and open stance, and his foot “just grabbed,” Wheaton said. “It never came off the court.” John McEnroe is not only a model of decorum these days, he’s winning again, gliding easily into the round of 16 at the Australian on Friday with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over fellow American Dan Goldie. ”It’s not the sort of situation where you have energy to burn in this weather,” McEnroe said. “The heat can catch lendl_ao90_up to you at times.” Not even hecklers and chatty fans in the record crowd of 21,028 could ruffle McEnroe, who displayed his full repertoire of shots and bounced around the court as if he were 21. Ivan Lendl ousted Karel Novacek 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. “I was always in defense because Karel was hitting the ball very well and it disrupted my pace” said Lendl, who had been forced to save break points in three different games of the 3rd set before obtained a decisive break. “I had a very good chance to win the third set and I could not keep my level as in the previous set” commented Novacek [61]. Stefan Edberg, the No. 3 seed, beat American Paul Chamberlin 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 and Aaron Krickstein, No. 5, beat Lars-Arden Wahlgren 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Mats Wilander of Sweden, the No. 8 seed, took 3 hours 10 minutes to beat Wally Masur of Australia, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, taking the final point of the match on a net cord. Pete Sampras, a former standout at Palos Verdes High, recorded his third Australian Open victory of the week when the 18-year-old defeated Australia’s Todd Woodbridge, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2, in Melbourne. “I don’t think I’ll play my best tennis until I’m in my mid-20s,” Sampras said, “Serve-and-volleyers take longer to mature. After beating Wilander, I lost in the first round of three tournaments. I expected the win would carry me through the rest of the year. Unfortunately, it didn’t. I lost to pretty good players: Chang, Van Rensburg and Lundgren. Luck just wasn’t on my side like it was against Wilander. You have days when you’re not getting the line calls, or the breaks.” Sampras admits that lack of concentration still is a problem for him. “I do have a problem with my concentration going off at times. I’m not experienced enough yet.”

Fourth round: AP

John McEnroe [5], still crazy after all these years, threw his racket and a tantrum Sunday at the Australian Open and became only the third player tossed out of a Grand Slam event for misconduct. He let himself get rattled by missed shots, close calls and a baby’s cries, and after his default, with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, 2-4 lead against Mikael Pernfors, McEnroe said, ”I don’t really have anyone to blame but myself.” It was a sad and bizarre chapter in the career of McEnroe, 30, a former Australian Open champion. He came determined to win his first major tournament since the 1984 U.S. Open but instead flew home to California early today. Only two days before, after winning his third match and playing his best tennis in years, McEnroe talked about how important it is for him to keep his temper under control. Yet all it took for McEnroe to revert to his old ways was a tough match against Pernfors, the Swedish-born former Seminole Community College player and two-time NCAA champion at Georgia. McEnroe won the first set easily, but as Pernfors picked up his game in the second set, McEnroe became increasingly agitated. After netting a short drop shot, he smashed the ball on the ground. In the 3rd set, McEnroe took a 2:1 lead after an exchange of breaks, but on the changeover he stood in front of a lineswoman he thought made a bad call. Bouncing a ball on his racket and glaring at her, McEnroe was hit with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct by umpire Gerry Armstrong. McEnroe argued with Armstrong, then returned to play, finally held service, and went on to take the set. He seemed to be in control of the match and himself again but became distracted by a crying baby. ”Give him a drink, the boy’s mcenroe_ao90hungry,” McEnroe yelled toward the stands. With Pernfors ahead, 3:2, McEnroe fell behind, 15/30 on a wide forehand, then bounced his racket on the court. At deuce, McEnroe hit another forehand wide, then smashed the court again with his racket, cracking the head slightly. Armstrong called a code violation for racket abuse, and McEnroe responded by swearing at him and asking for Ken Farrar (in the picture), the Grand Slam chief of supervisors. Farrar came onto the court and talked with McEnroe, but McEnroe continued complaining and swearing, his four-letter words clearly audible to nearby fans and television viewers. Armstrong, with Farrar’s approval, called, ”Code violation, further abuse, default, Mr. McEnroe. Game, set, match.” Farrar later described McEnroe’s harangue as the most vile language he’d ever heard in a tennis match. McEnroe, composed and speaking softly a few minutes later, said his mistake was in not understanding the rules. He said he thought the rules of last year’s Grand Slam tournaments were in effect – four steps to default rather than three – warning, point, default. McEnroe was fined $6,500 – $5,000 for racket abuse, $500 for verbal abuse and $1,000 for default. It’s the first wheaton_ao90disqualification in the Open era. Bill Alvarez was defaulted from the French Open in 1963 during his second round match against Martin Mulligan. Alvarez won the 1st set 7-5, and was defaulted at 4-all in the 2nd set because got into a dispute with the umpire Fred Sherriff. McEnroe’s exit dominated talk at the Australian Open on Monday, overshadowing unseeded David Wheaton‘s 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-3 victory over fellow American Aaron Krickstein, the fifth seed, who was playing with a groin injury. No. 3 Stefan Edberg joined Wheaton in the quarterfinals by beating fellow Swede Jonas Svensson 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. Their countryman Mats Wilander, No. 8, beat Finland’s Veli Paloheimo, who played courageously and in obvious pain after spraining his right ankle in the second game of the second set. Paloheimo, down 7-5, 1-0 with Wilander serving, had his ankle taped but was considerably slower. He managed to win four games in the set, including a break, but weakened and lost 7-5, 6-4, 6-0. Ivan Lendl hit 46 errors yet never was threatened in beating Australian Simon Youl 6-1, 6-3, 6-1. Unseeded Soviet Andrei Cherkasov upset No. 9 Andres Gomez of Ecuador 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(6), 7-6(5). Krickstein clearly was hampered by the injury to the left side of his groin, which he suffered late in his third-round victory over Swede Lars Wahlgren. ”I hoped I’d be able to play through it,” Krickstein said. “It was OK for a set, but at 2-all in the second I hurt it again. I’ve strained it pretty bad and I couldn’t move very well to my right at all. It was hard to concentrate. I knew I wasn’t 100 percent by any means. I was just hoping with treatment it would be OK.” Krickstein said he was not certain about his Davis Cup status. ”You never know. The injury is high on the bone and it’s a tough one to treat. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the next few days.” Wheaton, the last American in the men’s singles, said he was aware late in the match that Krickstein was not moving freely. ”I could see his lunging ability really wasn’t there,” he said. Boris Becker came to the defense of McEnroe on Monday, saying the misconduct rules are wrong and warning tennis officials against trying to turn players into robots. “Tennis has to be careful,” Becker said after his fourth round match at the Australian Open while McEnroe was flying home to Malibu after being thrown out of the tournament for smashing his tennis racket and cursing. “Not everybody is like a computer. Tennis is more than just hitting a few balls. It is very good to have a John McEnroe, and I hope we have a couple of more. Sure, you can’t say what he said to the umpire, but there should be a different penalty than just taking him out of the match.” Becker took some of the attention off the McEnroe affair with a slick escape from two sets down Monday night, a trick reminiscent of his route to the U.S. Open championship last fall. Down a break in the third set to 1989 Australian finalist Miloslav Mecir, Becker stormed back to win, 4-6, 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-1, 6-1, and reach the quarterfinals against three-time champion Wilander. “I was quite astonished I got out of it,” Becker said. It was the third time in recent months that Becker has come back from two sets down – the first time against Derrick Rostagno in the second round of the U.S. Open, the second time against Andre Agassi in Davis Cup play. “You have to tell yourself not to go down,” Becker said. “If I go down, the other becker_mecir_ao90guy has to beat me. So it’s first a struggle against yourself. That’s the first fight you have to win, and then your opponent.” Becker won both fights, turning up the level of his game midway through the second set after one fan called out, “Hey, Boris, you want to be No. 1?” and another fan yelled, “Remember Davis Cup in America.” Becker’s first serve was off in the opening set, when he seemed distracted by cawing crows on the rim of the stadium and frustrated by the passing shots of Mecir, who broke Becker three times. Becker blew a 4:0 lead in the second-set tiebreaker, double-faulting to 4:4 and losing it on a lunging forehand he hit long. But after Mecir broke him in the third set for a 3:1 lead, the match suddenly changed. Mecir weakened – missing a short drop shot, double-faulting and getting broken at love after two more errors. It was the last very good display by the 25-year-old Mecir [25], whose injury forced to premature retirement six months later. Yannick Noah, the No. 12 seed, defeated Pete Sampras 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Quarterfinals: AP

Three-time Australian champion Mats Wilander [15] ended Boris Becker‘s [2] bid for a third successive Grand Slam title in a stunning upset Wednesday as wild winds played havoc and fans succumbed to the heat. Defending champion Ivan Lendl [1] and two-time former champion Stefan wilander_ao90Edberg [3] also overcame the heat, winds and eager, young opponents to reach the semifinals. For the second consecutive day, at least 50 fans among the crowd of about 20,000 were treated for heat exhaustion, but none was seriously ill, officials said. The temperature on the rubber-bottomed hard courts was 115 degrees, down from the 140 degrees on Tuesday, but the dry, hot winds of up to 35 mph tossed around baseline shots. Away from the court, the temperature reached 99 degrees (37 Celsius). Wilander, winner of the Australian Open in 1983, 1984 and 1988, had been struggling the past year and dropped to No. 15 in the rankings, but he came back to show his old form in beating No. 2 Becker 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Wilander whipped strong passing shots by the net-charging Becker, who grew increasingly frustrated and finally backed up to the baseline and began playing Wilander’s style. Like a crafty counter-puncher taking apart a wild-swinging fighter, Wilander, 25, calmly took the 22-year-old Becker’s measure in a 2-hour 15-minute match. The loss by Becker stalled his drive to catch up to No. 1 Lendl, and left him wondering about a jinx in the Australian, where he never has gone past the quarterfinals in five appearances. Lendl, his legionnaire’s hat flapping and his ground-strokes cutting through winds that knocked over table umbrellas, beat Andrei Cherkasov [46] 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 on the partly enclosed stadium center court. ”The wind was a hot wind,” Lendl said. ”It was pretty bad. It’s not a nice way to play. I didn’t want to have to be out there for five sets.” Edberg, the only hatless player of the day, had to cope with even crazier winds on court one and a more difficult challenger in American serve-and-volleyer David Wheaton. The third-seeded Edberg, who warmed up for the match by playing nearly four hours in the heat Tuesday, beat Wheaton 7-5, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2. Wheaton [46], battled adverse weather conditions – on-court temperatures soared to 115 degrees and an intense wind played havoc with the ball – and a much more experienced opponent. “It wasn’t a pretty match,” Wheaton said. “There weren’t a lot of spectacular shots. You just go out there and get your business done.” Wheaton, 20, had some help on the way to the quarters. Mark Woodforde retired with an ankle injury in their third-round match. Aaron Krickstein, the No. 5 seed, hindered by a groin injury, didn’t have much fight in their round-of-16 duel. The tall, lanky Wheaton knows he isn’t yet in the big boys’ league and readily admits there’s a subtle difference between him and the Edbergs of the world. Meanwhile, Edberg said he was “pumped” to reach the semifinals, an advance that could help him vault past Becker in the chase for Ivan Lendl’s No. 1 spot. Edberg led 5:1* in the 2nd set, but Wheaton recovered, attacking the net more aggressively and serving better, and took the next five games. Leading by 6:5, he had two chances to break Edberg and take the second set after ripping a cross-court forehand winner to make it 15/40. However, Edberg won four straight points to hold, then won the tie-break by taking four of the last five points and pumped his fist a couple of more times. The last time Yannick Noah [13] made a Grand Slam semifinal he went on to win the French Open. That was in 1983. Seven years later, the Frenchman, in the semifinals of the Australian Open, gets another chance to win a Grand Slam title – and to deal with the pressure he put on himself and the expectations others had of him. He’s had his ups and downs, brooded about quitting last year, yet his love for the game kept bringing him back. noah_ao90And he feels he is better prepared to handle the pressure now. “I look forward to winning.” the 29-year-old Noah said. “When you’re young, you take (winning) for granted. Being out of the big matches for a long time helps me appreciate it.” Noah is playing with his old passion for the game. His renewed interest is encouraging because last year it looked as if he might be gone for good. “Five months ago I was thinking about stopping playing,” Noah said. “I didn’t think I could win a match. And now I’m in the semifinals.” Noah was in command today as he beat Sweden’s Mikael Pernfors 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Pernfors was pushed into a deep defensive by Noah’s constant attacks at the net on both, service and return games. Noah got eleven points behind overheads. The Swede managed to break the Frenchman three times. After the tournament, Pernfors waited more than a year for a match victory at the main level due to injuries.

Semifinals: AP

Ivan Lendl wielded his racket like a machine gun from the baseline and Stefan Edberg attacked at the net early today as they set up a meeting in the Australian Open finals. In swift executions by different methods, defending champion Lendl and two-time former champion Edberg performed almost flawlessly in two of the most one-sided Grand Slam semifinals since the Open era began in 1968. Lendl passed Yannick Noah left and right when the frustrated Frenchman charged the net lendl_ao90_and out-dueled him from the baseline when Noah stayed back to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in 1 hour, 47 minutes. Lendl expects to use the same strategy in the finals, commandeering the baseline most of the time and coming to the net on occasion to keep Edberg guessing. “Always when Stefan and I play, he will serve and volley and I play defense,” Lendl said. “I will try to fend him off. It depends on how much impression I make on his serve. If he holds at love or 15, he can take chances on my serve.” Edberg handed sluggish fellow Swede Mats Wilander the worst defeat in his 155 Grand Slam matches, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. Edberg simply had too many weapons for Wilander and put him away with merciful quickness in 82 minutes. “I had one of those days where I almost played perfect tennis,” Edberg said. “I think I played as well as I could. The key was I hit a lot of first serves today. I had great timing on my serves.” No. 3 Edberg hit 80 percent of his first serves and put away 39 volley winners to Wilander’s one. “After a while you feel helpless,” said the eighth-seeded Wilander, who left all his fight in his quarterfinal victory. “I don’t think he aced me once,” he said. “That’s when you feel helpless, when you hit a good return and he hits a great volley. When the other guy is playing as good as Stefan, you wait for him to lay off because you don’t expect him to play that good the whole match.” From start to finish, when Edberg served out the last game to love, it was the most one-sided Australian semifinal since Wilander beat Johan Kriek (6-1, 6-0, 6-2) in 1984 en route to his second Open title. Lendl, born in Czechoslovakia but now living in Greenwich, Conn., clicked on 67 percent of his first serves, drilled 36 winners past Noah and cut down on errors as the match progressed. Lendl, never broken in the three sets, broke Noah in the first game of the match and the last, and four times in between. “He was overpowering me from the baseline,’‘ said Noah.

Final: Nina Bick

lendl_edberg_ao90Ivan Lendl repeated as Australian Open men’s champion today when Stefan Edberg retired with a stomach-muscle injury in the third set. It was the first time in the Australian Open’s 85-year history that a men’s finalist has quit in the middle of a match. Lendl led 4-6, 7-6(3), 5-2 when Edberg told the umpire he could not continue. Edberg received massage by a trainer during the match and rubbed his sore muscles several times during breaks. Lendl received $200,000 from the $3 million purse. Edberg got $100,000. Lendl holds a lifetime advantage of 10-6, including a victory by Edberg in the semifinals of the Australian Open in 1985. Edberg became only the second player to retire from a Grand Slam final because of an injury. In 1911 at Wimbledon, Anthony Wilding of New Zealand won when H. Roper Barrett was forced to retire after the fourth set. The strained muscle, which Edberg injured in the semifinals, hampered the Swede from the opening game of the match, restricting his movement around court. Despite the discomfort, Edberg served for a two-set lead at 6:5 in the second set (after saving three set points in the 10th game). With the Swede serving at only 75 percent of his usual pace, Lendl was able to break him and then went on to take the tie breaker, 7/3, and even the match at one set all.  ”Maybe if I could have got that second set I could have bluffed my way through and won in three sets,” Edberg said. ”But right after the second set I thought I wasn’t going to last much longer. There’s no way I could beat Ivan by staying back and not being able to serve.” During the end changes in the second set, Todd Snyder, the tour trainer, applied ice to Edberg’s abdomen in a vain attempt to reduce the pain, but most of the capacity crowd of 15,000 were unaware of his condition. But by the seventh game of the third set, Edberg’s condition became apparent when he could only tap two Lendl lobs back to his opponent. His sudden walk past the umpire’s chair to shake Lendl’s hand momentarily stunned the fans as the umpire announced: ”Because of injury, Mr. Edberg has retired. Game, set and match to Mr. Lendl.” Edberg said he felt a sharp pain in his left abdominal muscles in the last game of his semifinal victory over Mats Wilander on Friday. “I took care of it and in practice yesterday it seemed all right, but during warm-up today I felt the pain right from the beginning,” Edberg said. ”I thought it might just be stiffness but it got worse and worse.” Last year in the Australian Open, Edberg was forced out of the quarterfinals after injuring his back in a match against Pat Cash. Edberg’s sudden exit from the final took some of the gloss off of Lendl’s consecutive championships and his eighth Grand Slam crown. ”It was not the greatest way to win,” Lendl said. ”Stefan displayed great courage in continuing to play when he was in such pain. I’ve had the same injury and it really hurts.” Lendl said he realized something serious was amiss with Edberg after he broke the strangely lendl_ao90_championsubdued Swede’s serve in the second game of the match. “He was not hitting his serves right; he was kicking it all the time,” Lendl said. ”I just tried to play out each point. Even when he was in a winning position I tried a lob or something to make him play.” Lendl’s victory in the Australian Open has consolidated his hold on the No. 1 world ranking. He said, however, that he would still stay with his plan to skip the French Open and concentrate on winning Wimbledon, the only major he has never won (indeed, he didn’t play at Roland Garros ’90). Edberg’s retirement from the final because of injury climaxed a turbulent tournament, which saw the disqualification of John McEnroe for three code of conduct violations in his match against Mikael Pernfors of Sweden, and the withdrawal of Gabriela Sabatini, the second-seeded players and Mark Woodforde of Australia, within an hour of each other after they fell injuring their ankles midway through third-round matches. Lendl’s 84th title, 8th and last major. Stats of the final

********************************

Australian Open, Melbourne
January 14, 1991; 128 Draw (16 seeds) – $2,023,760; Surface – Hard

It was a sad tournament played in the shadow of the Gulf war and the upcoming Yugoslav Wars. Both players and fans were concerned about the international situation and the tournament was rather deprived of enjoyment from both sides of spectacle. One man was extremely happy in the end though – it was Boris Becker, who claimed the title and became the best player in the world, it was something he was supposed to accomplish since he won Wimbledon five and a half years before. Becker barely survived a bizarre third round match (the longest Australian Open match in the next 18 years!) in which he couldn’t break his opponent Omar Camporese through 24 games, and suddenly broke him three straight times when the match-time approached the sixth hour of play!
All scorelines
First round: (AP)

Ivan Lendl, going after his third straight Australian Open title, breezed to a first-round victory early today. In a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 romp over Tarik Benhabiles, Lendl showed no effects, in his ground strokes or his serves, from the muscle strain that led him to default from a tuneup tournament last week (Sydney). Stefan Edberg, a first-round loser as the top seed in the French and U.S. Opens last edberg_ao91year, slipped away from scrappy Soviet qualifier Dimitri Poliakov, 6-1, 7-6(6), 6-2, to avoid the same fate in this tournament. Edberg, who defaulted with torn stomach muscles in the final on the same Center Court last year, came up with aces and service winners when he needed them most in a thrilling 2nd set against Poliakov. Twice Edberg came back, from 2:4 in games and 1:3 in the tiebreaker, to beat a 162nd-ranked player who had to win three qualifying matches to get here and who had played only once before in a Grand Slam event. But Poliakov, four days shy of his 23rd birthday, showed at Wimbledon that he is capable of slugging it out with the best as he extended former champion Pat Cash to five sets before losing. Edberg, whose only Grand Slam title last year came at Wimbledon, smacked his first ace of the second set to go up 7:6 in the tiebreaker, then took the set when Poliakov double-faulted. “It wasn’t easy, but at least it was a win in three sets,” said Edberg, who won the Australian on grass in 1985 and 1987. “I didn’t exactly have the right timing in the second set, and he was hitting a lot of good points. It was good, in a way, coming back from 2:4, After that I felt better. Poliakov was a little bit tentative in the first set. He doesn’t have a bad game.” On yesterday’s opening day, Boris Becker won easily. Becker, seeded No. 2 behind Edberg, beat Jeremy Bates, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Bates said: “After all, Borg never won the U.S. Open and Lendl never won Wimbledon. I think Boris has a chance to win here, probably more than Lendl has of winning Wimbledon.” Becker’s work before the tournament paid off with a better first-round performance than he has had in Melbourne, though he has never suffered the indignity of losing an opening match. “I’m feeling a little bit better about my timing,” Becker said. A wildly cheering crowd of British fans roared on each point Bates won, but they failed to distract Becker. Neither was Becker put off by a break in play to wipe off the court and close the roof when the rain came at 6-4, 4:0. Becker set up the first match point with a disguised backhand lob just inside the baseline that Bates couldn’t touch but wasted it with a long shelton_ao91return. Becker didn’t blow his second chance a few points later, hammering an overhead to complete the victory. “He’s serving well, and he started really cranking his serve toward the end,” Bates said. “He made a few errors; he was nervy at the start. He’s a class player. I think I wore out a couple of pair of shoes running in the second set.” Bryan Shelton displayed a sensational service performance becoming the first man to serve at least 40 aces in a 4-set match as he ousted Italian Paolo Cane 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.  Mats Wilander, the Australian champion in 1983, 1984 and 1988, struggled with the wind and his timing in the first set before settling down to beat 19-year-old [430] Australian Heath Denman, 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4. The home fans celebrated two Aussie comebacks against seeded opponents in matches that home favorites started losing a bagel set – Mark Woodforde‘s 0-6, 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-2 victory over No. 6 Emilio Sanchez, and Jason Stoltenberg‘s 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 victory over No. 11 Jakob Hlasek. No. 5 Goran Ivanisevic beat Sergi Bruguera, 6-4, 0-6, 6-1, 6-4, and No. 10 Guy Forget beat Horst Skoff, 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4. Brad Gilbert extended a cool handshake to a bitter foe in a night session match that ended the first round… After 3 hours, 25 minutes, Gilbert topped David Wheaton 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5). A chilly atmosphere pervaded the match between Gilbert, the men’s No. 7 seed, and fellow American Wheaton, and it had nothing to do with the brisk, breezy weather. It was a carry-over of the shoves and angry words they exchanged in a five-gilbert_ao91set semifinal duel worth at least $1 million to the winner and $500,000 to the loser at the $6 million Grand Slam Cup in Germany last December. Gilbert got into a shouting match with Wheaton’s brother and agent, John, and then with Wheaton. He wound up charging Wheaton and pushing him with his arms. Wheaton shoved back with his chest, and the two had to be separated by officials. Each player was fined $5,000. Gilbert won that match. But on Tuesday, the grudgde match fans expected gave way to one with muted hostility punctuated by frequent complaints by both players about line calls. Gilbert blunted Wheaton’s greater power with a soft touch on returns, and won the big points, including the final three points in the fourth-set tie breaker. As they left the court, Gilbert offered his hand but never looked at Wheaton as they shook briefly across the net. Todd Witsken and Jean-Philipp Fleurain won their matches in an express pace dropping just one game each. Witsken needed just 74 minutes to thrash Kelly Jones whereas Fleurian spent six minutes longer to send Renzo Furlan packing. Qualifier, 19-year-old Wayne Ferreira defeated Fernando Luna 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 initiating his record of 56 consecutive Grand Slam appearances.

Second round: (AP)

Love is part of the vocabulary of tennis, but all the talk at the Australian Open is about war. American Brad Gilbert and his wife worry about her brother, an Army helicopter pilot in the Persian Gulf. Ivan Lendl and his pregnant wife are fearful of terrorism as the players fly to tournaments around the world. Stefan Edberg calls the situation scary. Israel’s Amos Mansdorf is flying home, shrugging off a four-set loss 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 to American Aaron Krickstein before taking off today on the 6,000-mile journey just before Iraqi missiles hit near his home in Tel Aviv. “There are more important things at the moment,” he said. “I don’t have a wife or a child, but two of my cousins are paratroopers.” Mansdorf, a 25-year-old Israeli Army reservist, knows he also could be catapulted into the war as soon as he arrives home. Attention is split between the lendl_ao91war and tennis, but the games go on. Edberg, the top seed, and Lendl, the third-seeded defending champion, advanced to the third round yesterday by racing through their matches as if they couldn’t wait to get off the court. Lendl heard of the bombings just before walking on the court, and at the start of his match fans briefly chanted, “No more war. Give peace a chance.” “That made it difficult, but once you’re on the court you have to concentrate on tennis,” said Lendl, beat Scott Davis 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2. Edberg beat Eduardo Masso 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in less than 90 minutes. Goran Ivanisevic, the fifth seed, and Gilbert, the seventh seed, struggled to win their matches in five sets. Ivanisevic, a gangling 6-foot-4 Yugoslav, stood nine inches taller than his opponent, Ramesh Krishnan of India, but had a tough time putting him away 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the day’s most raucous match, complete with Yugoslavian politics. Croation separatists chanted and waved their flags throughout the match, while Serbians did the same on the other side of the court. Gilbert and Richard Fromberg opened play on Center Court amid reports of the first bombs landing on Baghdad. Despite the distraction and Gilbert’s worries about his brother-in-law, he won 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0. “It’s been tense,” Gilbert said. “My wife’s not sleeping much.” Sweden’s Magnus Gustafsson found out about the war after his, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-0, victory over Australian Wally Masur. “I was happy when I walked into the locker room, and a minute later I was crushed,” Gustafsson said. “I don’t know how big this war is going to be, but of course I’m scared. Everyone is worried about traveling.” Darren Cahill notched one of the most amazing victories of his career triumphing 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 over No. 13 Andrei Cherkasov. Cahill’s comeback from four match points against him in the 4th set and his gritty stand in the final set (he was serving to stay in the match at 4:5) of a 3-hour, 42-minute thriller unfortunately came too late for most fans. By the time the match ended, only about 1,300 fans remained in the 15,000-seat stadium. Cahill fought back from the edge of defeat to even the match. He broke Cherkasov with a forehand pass an inch from the line for a 6:5 lead in the final set, then pumped his fists repeatedly as the sparse crowd roared. Cahill confidently took a 40/0 lead on serve with a huge overhead, an ace and a backhand error by Cherkasov, then put the match away on his second match point with a cross-court backhand volley way out of Cherkasov’s reach. The Australian Open, without John McEnroe‘s antics, Andre Agassi‘s swagger and Pete Sampras‘s serves, had its loudest moment today when a fan removed her shirt to show Boris Becker her Mickey Mouse tattoo as security guards led her from the stadium. “She was funny,” said Becker, who laughed at the woman’s loud heckling throughout his match. “It doesn’t happen too often, and it’s never happened in my matches before.” Becker, seeded No. 2, played well despite the distraction, but his opponent, 68th-ranked Marian Vajda of Czechoslovakia, did little to create any drama before falling, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3. Becker, the liveliest of the top men’s seeds, did his best to give the fans a good show on court. He didn’t dive and roll the way he does on his beloved Wimbledon grass, but his red hair flew as he pounded the ball with more confidence than he usually has shown here in five disappointing appearances. becker_ao91Becker attacked from the start, ripping a backhand return winner past the stunned Vajda to break him in the first game, then maintaining the lead through the set as each held service the rest of the way. Vajda held his first service of the 2nd set, pausing briefly at 40/30 when a gust of wind blew over a courtside umbrella and table, but then faded against Becker’s onslaught as the German reeled off 10 straight games. Late afternoon shadows covered three-quarters of the court by the time Becker closed out the 2nd set with a crisp backhand that a lunging Vajda hit wide. Becker kept up the assault in the 3rd set. A service winner and ace gave him a 3:0 lead, and the exit of the tatooed lady during the changeover brought some comic relief. A three-time champion Mats Wilander, won as many points as his opponent (150 pts.), but was better in the most important ones which gave him a  7-6(8), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4  over Christian Saceanu [151] of Germany. Glenn Layendecker [146] became the first “lucky loser” that advanced to the third round at Australian Open after a shocking win over Peter Lundgren 3-6, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 under 3 hours.  The 29-year-old American advanced to the last 32 of any major for the first time in career. he came to Melbourne with a 0-8 five-set record, and out of the sudden won both his matches after a 5-set struggle. In the third round Layendecker played five sets again, this time losing 5-7 in the 5th set to Cristiano Caratti in 3 hours 51 minutes.

Third round: (AP)

Stefan Edberg and Pat Cash put on a blazing show show of hyper-speed tennis – rat-a-tat volleys too quick to count – to close a week of memorable matches. Edberg squirmed out of every tough situation by taking the big points in a nearly three-hour match, as he won 7-6(6), 7-5, 6-2. Edberg saved a triple set point in the tie-break, he had saved a set point also in his previous 8/6 tie-break won five days before against Poliakov. Cash, fully recovered from the torn Achilles tendon that threatened his career two years ago, played with the quickness and acrobatic skill he displayed when he won Wimbledon in 1987. This was a charged-up, X-rated match – Cash picked up a code violation for an audible obscenity – that pitted two serve-and-volley specialists in top form in front of a packed, roaring crowd of Aussies and Swedes. “It was very high standard tennis,” Cash said. “There were hardly any mistakes. I honestly can’t remember a match that I’ve played against him that hasn’t been of a very high standard. We’re both very athletic. It makes exciting tennis. I just couldn’t get the ball past him sometimes.” Edberg had won four of their previous six matches, including a brilliant five-setter for wilander_ao91the title when this Grand Slam championship was played on grass in 1987. Three-time Australian Open champion Mats Wilander took a step toward resurrecting his crumbling career Saturday by beating Brad Gilbert, who muttered to himself all match about playing “brainless” tennis. Wilander, No. 1 in the world in 1988 when he won the Australian, French and U.S. Opens, came here ranked No. 47. But the popular Swede showed some of his old quickness and stamina as he beat the seventh-seeded Gilbert 7-6(6), 6-1, 6-4 to reach the round of 16. “I feel today that things are coming back,” Wilander said. “During the tiebreaker I could see the sun coming out and I could sense he was getting tired. I knew it was more important for him. If he wins it he gets more energy and confidence.” Once Wilander took the tiebreaker, he pounced with his old enthusiasm, crushing Gilbert in the second set with a smart blend of baseline and net play, and putting the match away in the third set with an ace on the final serve. Gilbert stomped around the court during the match, scolding himself for his poor returns. “That was just a no-brainer,” he said once as he pushed a forehand return wide. “Brainless,” he yelled on other occasions when he made mistakes in both his shots and his strategy. Finally, Gilbert just complained about his bad luck: “His shots hit the net and go in, mine hit the tape and go wide.” It was their second meeting, the previous one at the US Open 1990 was won by Gilbert in four sets. Goran Ivanisevic, No. 5, also wilted under the broiling sun, playing with no passion in his 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 loss to fellow Yugoslav Goran Prpic. Ivanisevic, who aced No. 1 Stefan Edberg 21 times in beating him in a tuneup event last week, managed only five against Prpic while make 18 more errors. No. 13 Aaron Krickstein, the highest seeded American left, beat Germany’s Patrick Kuhnen 6-4, 6-4, 6-1. In a 3-hour battle of hard-servers Guy Forget defeated forget_ao91Michael Stich for the second time within a week (they played final in Sydney) 7-6(5), 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3. Forget saved a double set point in the second set tie-break. Boris Becker and Omar Camporese [45], clean shaven when they went on court and sporting light beards when they left, treated Australian Open fans to a memorable match on a day when they came to forget. 5 hours, 11 minutes, of heavyweight-style, slugging tennis – the longest singles duel in Australian history – proved the perfect tonic Friday for a tournament shaken by the Middle East war. A day after players and fans stood mesmerized by war reports on televisions in the stadium, they packed the No. 1 court to see Becker win 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 0-6, 4-6, 14-12 in a third-rounder against Camporese, a gutsy Italian playing the match of his life. Camporese, ranked No. 45, seemed to relish the role of escape artist, repeatedly locking himself into impossible situations before finding ways out. From two sets down, he evened the match by catching the No. 2 Becker napping in the third set and confounding him in the fourth with comebacks in four straight service games. Becker had Camporese at 0/30 three times and 0/40 in the 9th game of the 4th set (four mini-match points in total in that game), but each time the Italian squirmed out of trouble with the help of aces and rocketing forehands. Becker failed to win any of the six break points he held against Camporese in those four games. Instead it was Becker who yielded, netting a backhand on a first break point against him in the 10th game. Six thousand fans, most of them cheering wildly for Becker throughout the match, then settled back for something special – a 2:05 fifth set – and they were joined by players who left their lounge to see the match up close. Camporese dug in, taking the first game at love. Becker recouped, holding at 30 as he attacked Camporese’s less reliable backhand. For 20 games, neither player cracked, each holding service to make the score 10:10 (Becker served six times to stay in the match but wasn’t closer than three points to lose the match) as the court lights came on and the sun slipped lower in the pale blue sky. Tiebreakers are not played in the final set of a Grand Slam event, and there is no time limit. Finally, with Camporese serving at deuce in the 21st game, Becker blocked a serve up the middle with his backhand and pushed it crosscourt for a winner. Becker danced toward the net to follow the ball as Camporese stared at it helplessly. Too eager to get the point back, Camporese then smacked a backhand approach shot long after his next serve and was broken after holding 24 straight games (he wasn’t broken since 5:5 in the 1st set). The match was now Becker’s, or so it appeared, as Camporese hit three shots out to give the German a 40/0 lead and three match points. But Camporese again turned into a racket-wielding Houdini, winning five straight points – the last three on a pair of sizzling service returns and a backhand out of Becker’s reach down the line. Camporese pumped his fist and racket, as some fans began chanting, “Omar, Omar.” Becker, a master of the tennis marathon with a 15-8 record in five-setters before this match, fought back furiously, charging the net as he broke Camporese at love with a backhand volley and forehand volley on the last two points. Camporese slipped free of Becker’s grip again, though, breaking back to even the set at 12 with the help of a double fault by Becker on the final point. The sun sank to the top of the trees in the park beyond the stadium as Camporese served an ace to go up 40/0 in the 25th game. becker_camporese_ao91Becker, wearing his third shirt of the match, bounced up and down to loosen up and came on strong again. He took the next three points, putting the game at ‘deuce’ with a forehand volley, and, after a service winner by Camporese, won three more points in a row for a 13:12 advantage. This time, Becker did not yield and Camporese could not escape, finally falling on a pair of aces past his forehand on the last two points. The Italian won more points in this epic encounter (212-210, serving more aces: 21-7). “I feel pretty good, but in the fifth set I was just trying to hold on,” said the 23-year-old Becker. “After leading, two sets to love, you feel, ‘What happened? This thing is drifting away from me.'” Camporese, 22, said he had never thought he had “a real good shot in the fifth set,” but that he knew he had to show his best when he faced triple-match point on return. “Five hours I was playing; I just said to myself, ‘Let’s try,'” he recalled. “I hit five fantastic returns.” Unseeded Patrick McEnroe, John’s 24-year-old brother, beat No. 12 Jay Berger 6-1, 7-5, 7-5 in almost three hours to reach the fourth round – the same round his tempestuous sibling reached last year before he was thrown out for misconduct. The 25-year-old Berger never played another major tournament, he went into retirement next month in Philadelphia (chronic knee injuries). The good mood of the day engendered by the Becker match was capped by victories at night by two popular 19-year-old Australians – Todd Woodbridge over eighth-seeded Swede Jonas Svensson 7-5, 6-2, 6-1. Ivan Lendl, seeded No. 3 this year, reached the round of 16 by beating another Swede, Magnus Gustafsson, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. “In the first set, I had no confidence in my body,” Lendl said. “Once I figured it out, it was OK.” Lendl, sporting the long-tailed cap he prefers as a sun-guard, was bothered by line calls and Gustafsson’s powerful forehand early on. The Swede, cheered on by fans with their faces painted the blue-and-yellow of their nation’s flag, broke Lendl in the 1st game of the 2nd set but lacked the consistency to stay with the defending champion. Lendl’s trademark ground-strokes took over the match in the second set, breaking for a 3:1 lead on a great backhand service return and again for the set. His serve was improving game by game and Gustafsson was getting ragged, and the third set ended with two forehand errors.

Fourth round: (AP)

yzaga_ao91Sweden’s Mats Wilander, a three-time Australian Open champion who has slumped to No. 47, lost Monday to No. 86 Jaime Yzaga of Peru. Wilander, one of the most durable players in the game with a 22-10 career record in five-setters, faded at the end against the hard, deep ground-strokes of Yzaga and fell 7-5, 2-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. Yzaga is the first Peruvian to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinals since the Open era began in 1968 (Alex Olmeda of Peru won the Australian Open in 1959). “The way to beat him is to keep the pressure on him, and I didn’t do that,” Wilander said. The Australian champion in 1983, ’84 and ’87, is now ranked 47th in the world after a sabbatical from tennis (it lasted four months in 1990, between March and July). He had looked good in the early rounds here, beating seventh-seeded Brad Gilbert in the third round Saturday, with the old Wilander killer backhand showing its stuff. With a fairly weak draw and a good record here – he reached the semifinals last year – Wilander was in the hunt for championship No. 4. But the shots fizzled for the most part against Yzaga, who broke for the 1st set and took six games in a row for the 3rd set after Wilander had tied the match at a set apiece and broken for 1:0. Wilander took charge in the 4th set, serving four love games and allowing just one point in the fifth service game. He broke for a 5:3 lead on four errors by Yzaga and held at love with an ace for the set. That was the end of the Swede’s service dominance – and his chances of a quarterfinal berth. Yzaga had a modest 8-7 record in five-setters, but he went on the attack in the 5th set, forcing Wilander to save four break points for 1:1. That was the last game Wilander won. Yzaga saved a break point for 2:1, broke prpic_ao91and held on forehand errors for 4:1, broke on a backhand passing shot down the line and held at 15 on a backhand crosscourt winner. Wilander said the tournament overall had made him happy. “I’m not particularly satisfied with today,” he said, “but overall I’m pretty pleased.” Yugoslavia’s Goran Prpic, No. 56, also unexpectedly reached the quarters by beating Holland’s Jan Siemerink 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 6-0, 7-6(7). It was a gutsy effort by both players, with Prpic overcoming a fever and brace-encased sore knee, and Siemerink a sore shoulder that required massage and treatment by a trainer on changeovers. Prpic described his advancement to the last eight as a miracle; because of his weak right knee he didn’t play 12 months a hardcourt match coming to Melbourne in 1991 (he hadn’t played tennis more than two yeas when he suffered the knee injury at Boca West ’86). Meanwhile, Patrick McEnroe stepped out of John McEnroe‘s shadow and into the quarterfinals, trying to finish the job his brother left undone and make a name for himself. He smiles mischievously and talks with a voice that is pure John as he recalls their days growing up in New York. John often came to Patrick’s rescue, protecting him from mayhem by the middle brother, Mark. “I used to drive Mark crazy,” Patrick says. “He’d whack me, and I would call John. They would fight, and I wouldn’t get into trouble.” Patrick drove Mark Woodforde crazy with pinpoint baseline shots and canny returns in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 victory that kicked off an uprising of low-ranked players. Woodforde, a stolid Aussie not easily riled, drew a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct when he threw his racket twice in disgust after being broken to 0:3 in the 1st set against McEnroe on Sunday. Woodforde then surged to a 4:3 lead, whacking winners all over the court, but Patrick didn’t run for cover or call John for help. Instead, he calmly ripped a crosscourt backhand winner into the corner to hold service to 4:4 and start a seven-game run. In delicious irony, the match came on the anniversary of John’s blowup in the same round last year, a Center Court tantrum that led to the first expulsion for misconduct in Australian history. Patrick, 24, came here ranked No. 114, while John, 31, a seven-time Grand Slam titlist currently ranked No. 14, withdrew because of a shoulder strain. Suddenly, though, Patrick has a good shot at reaching the semifinals Wednesday if he can beat Italy’s version of the Karate Kid, Cristiano Caratti – the 20-year-old Italian [101] who survived a battle of unknowns with a 19-year-old Richard Krajicek 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(4), 3-6, 6-4 in 3 hours 16 minutes. It was Krajicek’s [113] second main-level tournament. Caratti moved through the quarterfinals not caratti_ao91having faced a Top 100 player in his four matches in Melbourne. If McEnroe does win that match, he’d face Guy Forget (four-set victor over Todd Woodbridge) or perhaps a weary Boris Becker. Becker, who won a record 5 hour, 11 minute match Friday, played doubles Saturday, and struggled to beat [173] Wayne Ferreira 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4 on Sunday. “My legs and my mind were real tired today,” said Becker, who is trying to get past the quarters here for the first time in six tries. “That was my biggest problem. Your feet boil after 2 hours.” But in case anyone thinks Becker is a pushover at this point, he added: “I’m getting better and better, and the other guys know that. too.” Stefan Edberg eluded a mugging by young Jim Courier, a tennis battler with some of the ugliest and hardest strokes in the game. Edberg’s No. 1 ranking and hopes for a third Australian title nearly faded today against the deep groundstroke punches of Courier, 20, a chunky American who beat the Swede the previous time they played (three months before in a 5-set Basel final). Edberg, one of the most graceful players in tennis, deftly slipped away from an attack of bird droppings in the second set, evened the match, then repelled another assault by Courier to win 4-6, 6-0, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 and reach the quarterfinals.

Quarterfinals: (AP)

Patrick McEnroe [114], all his life just John’s baby brother, became his own man with a gutsy, classy show and a glorious run of luck – seven net cords in the last two sets – in one of the most dramatic matches of the Australian Open. Tears trickled down his cheeks and the crowd rose in a loud, sustained ovation when McEnroe, his torso wrapped in a brace, ended a 3-hour 24-minute thriller by beating Italy’s Cristiano Caratti 7-6(2), 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-2. Barely an hour into the McEnroe-Caratti match Wednesday night, the New Yorker felt a shot of pain on the left side of his back while serving in the 4th game of the 2nd set. He won that game to go up 3:1, then called a three-minute injury mcenroe_ao91timeout during the changeover after Caratti held. A trainer massaged McEnroe and snapped a corset around his back. And in that condition, the pain stabbing occasionally, dull and annoying the rest of the time, McEnroe played on, rubbing and clutching his side but never quitting. The low ranked McEnroe isn’t at the same level with No. 1 Stefan Edberg, No. 2 Boris Becker or No. 3 Ivan Lendl, but he’s in the semis with them and no one is taking him lightly. “It’s unbelievable company to be in,” McEnroe said. “It sounds incredible,”  No matter what happens, it will be hard to beat the drama of McEnroe’s victory over Caratti. What it lacked in skill, it made up in spirit, as the two played their hearts out. Caratti also played in pain, with a strained left buttocks, but he kept it a secret until the match was over. He said the injury slowed him going to the net, but McEnroe said, “He looked pretty quick to me.” Caratti, a 20-year-old ranked No. 101, had more flair but looked less controlled on court than the 24-year-old McEnroe, a former star at NCAA champion Stanford. McEnroe’s shirt drooped sloppily over his shorts, and the only thing colorful about him was the neon green trim of his sneakers. He didn’t wear a red bandanna or paint his face with multicolored sunscreens like John. There was no need in this match, played under a closed retractable roof because of the threat of rain. After a break apiece in the first set, McEnroe asserted himself in the tiebreaker, attacking the net and serving with greater authority. Two service winners, a two-fisted return crosscourt past Caratti and another service winner gave McEnroe a 6:2 lead in the tiebreaker, then he sealed the set with a backhand volley. McEnroe remained aggressive until hurting himself in the second set, then relied on his superior serve and Caratti’s mistakes. After the injury timeout, McEnroe held service at love with the help of an ace and a backhand volley that ticked the top of the net and fell over at game point for a 4:2 lead. Caratti’s errors cost him the final game of the set and gave McEnroe a chance to get out of the match quickly. However, McEnroe dropped another two relatively tight sets. Yet he saved the required energy to win quite easily the decider over the exhausted Italian who’d played 18 sets en route to the quarterfinals, McEnroe 14, but his two previous matches were three-setters while Caratti went to the distance.  Becker said when learning he’d next play McEnroe. “I think immediately of the Great McEnroe.” Becker, though, may be far beyond McEnroe’s reach at this point after playing nearly perfectly in beating tough, 10th-seeded Guy Forget 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-3. “He would have killed even Ivan or Stefan playing like this today,” Forget said. “When he serves like this, and he goes for so many shots and he makes them, there’s not much you can do.” Becker acknowledged that he was in top form against Forget, but added, “The only problem is I don’t play like that every day.” Waiting for the winner of that match will be the survivor of Lendl-Edberg, a rematch of last year’s finalists. Lendl defeated Goran Prpic 6-0, 7-6(1), 7-6(2). Prpic, ranked No. 56, plays with a complicated brace on his right knee, but he kept up long rallies with Lendl in the second and third sets before caving in during the tiebreakers. The only point Lendl lost in the second-set tiebreaker was a double-fault, and he won the last six points of the third-set tiebreaker. An ace set up match point, and he won it on the Yugoslav’s forehand into the net. Edberg beat Jaime Yzaga 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in 89 minutes. “I knew how he played, but he has a better forehand than what it looks like out of the court,” said the 23-year-old Yzaga, who was playing in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. “He plays serve and volley and moves so well. He had the break really early and started playing better.”

Semifinals: (AP)

Ivan Lendl pulled off a remarkable escape against Stefan Edberg today, and kept alive his dream of winning the Australian Open championship for the third straight year. Edberg squandered two match points in the 4th set – one with a double fault – and Lendl then staged a fighting comeback to win 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4. He will be seeking the ninth Grand Slam title of his career in Sunday’s final. Lendl took 4 hours 2 minutes to wear down Edberg. He improved as the match edberg_lendl_ao91progressed, while Edberg tightened up on the key points. The Swede served a total of 11 double faults. The top seed had been chasing the fifth Grand Slam title of his career. Lendl turned the match around after being given a code of conduct warning for ball abuse after dropping serve in the 9th game of the 4th set. He swatted the ball high into the air after Edberg completed the break with a backhand passing shot down the line. Edberg had his two match points in the next game but lost the both – the first on a netted backhand volley, the second on a double fault. Lendl kept cool and eventually forced the set to a tiebreaker, which he won 7/3. Lendl got the crucial break for 3:2 in the final set – and never allowed Edberg back into contention. He served and volleyed with poise and frequently passed Edberg when the Swede advanced to the net. Edberg was ranked No. 1 in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals at the end of the 1990, but Lendl was named world champion by the International Tennis Federation. “Some weeks you have problems doing certain things, and the next week it’s gone,” said the usually steady Edberg, who had 11 double faults. “It can happen, and it happened today.” The mystifying run of John McEnroe’s younger brother ended in the semifinals, but not without a fight. Patrick McEnroe won the first set in a tiebreaker and was on serve through eight games in the 2nd set before second-ranked Boris Becker put away the world’s 114th-ranked player 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 becker_ao91_with the help of 23 aces. “Fully expected,” McEnroe said with a smile, when asked to describe an extraordinary two weeks in which he has established himself as more than just a doubles specialist – and just another McEnroe. “It gives me a lot of satisfaction to know that the hard work I’ve been doing has paid off. It makes me want to work even harder.” McEnroe admitted as much the day before his match – though he didn’t like to be reminded of how big an underdog he was. ”I’ll do what I do best, play my game and see how it matches up,” said McEnroe, ranked 114th in the world. ”I’ll be nervous, but all the cliches hold up. I have nothing to lose. I’m going in there with the intention of winning.”

Final: Larry Sidons

Now that he has what he wanted most in tennis, Boris Becker is thinking about how long he will keep it and what life might hold after it loses its appeal. Finally No. 1 after more than five years within reach of the top, Becker says he’s uncertain how long he will stay there but doesn’t want it to be too long. He’s a lot like Mats Wilander in that sense. Wilander reached the No. 1 spot in 1988 when he won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments. Then he decided there was more to life, becker_ao91triumphand a Wilander advance to the semifinals of one of the big four tournaments now is considered a major feat. Becker, 23, said that was not necessarily bad. “I am a person like Mats, a person of extremes,” Becker said after beating Ivan Lendl 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 for his first Australian Open title yesterday and the top spot in the men’s rankings. “I have to be comfortable in it,” he said. “I have a little fear, that it won’t go on. I like to be No. 1, but I like then to go on to other things. I hope I can stay there for maybe two years, and then I want to be a private man, spending time with my kids and my wife. That’s what I want.” In keeping with this ethereal, somewhat poetic approach, Becker did an extraordinary thing after clinching the victory with a zinger of a forehand service return. He went for a jog in the park. “Outside, there is a little park with a couple of trees, and I went there to run because it meant so much to me,” Becker said. “I was thinking back about the past, what I had to go through. Not how long it took me, just about all the people who had been there. It’s a very special moment, and you can’t plan it.” It was the cap of what was a most unusual tournament – good, often great tennis, played in the shadow of the Gulf war and featuring some of the most surprising and bizarre moments imaginable. Lendl reached the final when Stefan Edberg, who lost the men’s No. 1 ranking to Becker, blew two match points in the semifinals. Becker almost didn’t make it past the third round, surviving a tournament-record 5-hour, 11-minute five-setter against unheralded Italian Omar Camporese. And then there was the McEnroe factor. John was absent with injuries and never got a chance to repeat his fourth-round dismissal for arguing line calls a year ago. But his youngest brother Patrick, ranked 114th, reached the semifinals before losing to Becker in a tough four-setter. Perhaps the strangest event of the tournament before yesterday’s victory lap also involved the eventual men’s champion. Becker got a good laugh during his second-round victory over Marian Vajda when a drunken fan who had heckled him throughout the match exposed her breasts before being led away by ushers. Becker himself looked ready to be led away in the 1st set against Lendl (the Czechoslovak won first five games). But by the 2nd set, Becker becker_ao91_championslowly was getting into his game and getting over a stiff back that required treatment from trainer Todd Snyder. He saved a break point in the opening game of that set and got a crucial break in the 10th game, which he repeated in the next two sets. In the 3rd set, Becker converted sixth set point (blew five serving at 5:3) and hopped up and down in anticipation of his long-sought victory. Lendl was far from dead. Becker saved two break points and held with an ace for 3:2 in the 4th set, then broke for the match on his second match point, that big forehand return. Becker thrust his arms skyward as he ran to the net, threw his racket into the crowd, applauded the fans, gave them the No. 1 sign – then went for a run. “He was just on top of the world. He was ecstatic,” said Glen Sharam, the National Tennis Center’s head grounds-keeper, who followed Becker on his merry jaunt, “He was waving his hands and jumping around.” About 10 people along the fence beside the park saw the new champion and applauded. Back inside, Becker said it would take awhile before his long-sought status seemed real. “It’s hard to explain, to put into words,” he said. “I’ve been so close and never taken that final step. I didn’t expect to do it here. I can’t believe it myself. I will have to sleep on it for a few days to realize it’s me.” Lendl lost his first match in Melbourne having won 20 in a row, for Becker it was 30th tile (5th major). Stats of the final