1992 – 1993, Australian Open

  Australian Open, Melbourne
January 13, 1992; 128 Draw (16 seeded); $1,895,685; Surface – Hard

The tournament was deprived of two young American stars: Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi who withdrew due to injuries. Sampras pulled out after the draw had been made (sore shoulder), at the beginning of the year Agassi was supposed to play his first Australian Open ever. The tournament was won by their compatriot and peer, Jim Courier, and this triumph secured him No. 1 spot in the world ranking. It was a breakthrough tournament for two 20-year-old players, Wayne Ferreira and Richard Krajicek, who reached semi-finals and thanks to that achievement they advanced to the Top 20 a few months later to stay there the next couple of years. Both young guys impressed in Melbourne with their trademark shots: Ferreira’s wide-swing forehand, Krajicek’s first booming serve…
All scorelines
First round: Compiled from Wire Reports

Boris Becker dealt out 25 aces to begin defense of his Australian Open tennis title. Becker, returning to the stage where he briefly reached No. 1 in the world last year, gunned down Jan Gunnarsson, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2, today with a display of precise serving, volleying and ground strokes. Becker couldn’t remember the last time he served so many aces, especially over just three sets, but when told the total, he said, “That’s quite a lot, even for me. I couldn’t have asked for a better match.” Top-seeded Stefan Edberg [1] showed only a little rustiness in his first serious match in more than two months because of tendinitis in his knee and a wrist injury. Though bothered by a sore forearm in a tuneup tourney, Edberg easily dispatched Britain’s [169] Jeremy Bates, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. Patrick McEnroe, the quiet one who shook up the Australian Open by reaching the semifinals a year ago in the absence of his fiery brother, John McEnroe, stirred excitement again. Stuck this time on the same side of the draw as his older brother, Patrick joined two-time champion Ivan Lendl as an easy straight-sets winner. “It’s definitely great to be back here,” the younger Mac said after beating Italy’s Massimo Cierro, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. “I have fond memories of last year. I love the courts and the surroundings. I know that it’s different than last year, but I’m not coming here saying I have to get to the semis.” The winner in 1989 and 1990 and runner-up to Boris Becker last year, the fifth-seeded Ivan Lendl [4] donned his desert cap again in the 90-degree stadium court heat (30 Celsius) and beat Australian Richard Fromberg, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. “I feel like I’m not playing particularly well, but I’m winning matches easily, and that’s confusing to me,”  said  Lendl, perhaps the hardest working playing on the men’s tour, continues at 30 to be a strong contender for another title.
Guy Forget [7] and Henri Leconte [161], left-handed Frenchmen who won the Davis Cup two months before, produced a 3-hour-45-minute battle on Centre Court, which Forget won 2-6, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3, saving a mini-match point at 3:4 in the 4th set with a backhand passing-shot.. It was just 1 out of their 4 meetings on the tour (all matches in majors). John McEnroe returned to the scene of the crime today for a match remarkable mostly – surprise – for his good behavior. Two years ago, the brash New Yorker was kicked out of the Australian Open after throwing a temper tantrum on center court. But the fans welcomed him back with open arms today even though he ousted Broderick Dyke, formerly Australia’s top-ranked player, 6-2, 6-0, 6-1. The two-week Grand Slam event was marred for the second day by the withdrawal of a highly ranked player. Pete Sampras, the men’s No. 6 seed, withdrew Monday with a shoulder injury. A record National Tennis Center crowd of 23,832 still got its money’s worth on a day highlighted by emotional match-ups. No. 2 men’s seed Jim Courier drew a fine for a shouted obscenity as he struggled to a 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory against France’s Rodolphe Gilbert. Courier, the French Open winner and U.S. Open runner-up, didn’t get much respect from the 84th-ranked Gilbert or officials, who at first assigned the match to a distant outer court, then moved it to the smallest of three show courts. “There were a few things frustrating out there,” Courier said. “I was not hitting the ball as well as I’d like to, and he was hitting it cleanly. He had a few let-cords in a row, and that irritated me, but I got out of it.” Wimbledon winner Michael Stich [5] had his hands full with Spain’s Javier Sanchez. Stich was down a break in the first set and lost the third before struggling into the second round with a 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory. ”I got the fun back for the game,” he said, though his flat voice was not entirely convincing. “I worked pretty hard, and now I’m enjoying it again. For me, that’s the most important thing, because then I can play good tennis if I really enjoy being out there. Over the last seven days, that’s come back.” Goran Ivanisevic beat Australia’s Jason Stoltenberg, 7-6(12), 6-3, 6-4, saving seven set points in the first set. Stoltenberg’s compatriot, and the future best Australian player of the 90s, 19-year-old Patrick Rafter [292], suffered a 4-set defeat to Jim Grabb [86] in his first major appearance.

Second round: The Associated Press

Stefan Edberg‘s new dictum – “No strain, no pain” – worked just as well for Monica Seles as the Australian Open top seeds survived 110-degree court-side heat (43 Celsius!) and glided closer to their second straight Grand Slam titles. Taking some speed off his serve to save his sore arm, Edberg, the top seed and U.S. Open champion, progressed effortlessly toward his second straight edberg_aussieo92Grand Slam title today with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 victory in the second round over Claudio Mezzadri. What Edberg held back in power he made up for with his fluid, quick movement at the net as he showed little rustiness from a two-month layoff caused by knee and wrist injuries. He strained his right forearm in a tuneup exhibition last week and is deliberately pacing himself until the inflammation and pain subside. Mezzadri, a 26-year-old Swiss ranked No. 128, gave Edberg no reason to push himself, obligingly dumping balls into the net, spraying shots wildly, staying deep and yielding the net to Edberg. Swedish fans, their faces painted as always here in the blue and yellow colors of their nation’s flag, also got to cheer an upset by another compatriot, Lars Wahlgren. A qualifier ranked No. 256, Wahlgren beat his second top-20 opponent, 12th-seeded American Derrick Rostagno, 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3), to reach the third round. “He looked a little bit slow, so today was the right day for me to beat him,” said Wahlgren, who beat No. 20 Brad Gilbert in the first round. “It’s not often you get a chance to beat the very good guys.” Wistful about the past, unsure of the future, John McEnroe assumed the role of benign elder statesman and spoke as if he knew his victory Wednesday might be his last ever at the Australian Open. He could take satisfaction in beating a tough, credible opponent – No. 21 Andrei Cherkasov – 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a three-hour drama on center court to reach the third round. But McEnroe, his game fashioned around tricky shots and crafty gamesmanship, couldn’t con himself or anyone else about what lay ahead – a match Friday against defending champion Boris Becker. “I have to play my best tennis and get a little bit of luck as well,’‘ McEnroe said. “Maybe I would have a chance then. I am not going out there believing I can’t win the match. If I don’t believe it, I definitely won’t win. I’ll have to make a game plan of some kind, try to be as positive as I can, and hope I can blunt his serve a bit.” Leg propped up on a chair, ice resting on a sore knee that was wrapped in a scarlet brace during the match, McEnroe hardly looked or sounded as if he thought he might be up to the task of beating Becker. The German won their last six matches, between 1986 and 1989, and lost only their first meeting in early 1985, when McEnroe was still No. 1. Boris Becker, who had difficulty beating Italy’s Gianluca Pozzi, 7-5, 7-5, 6-2, flatly declared McEnroe “the greatest player of all time.” “I just have to go out and put his name aside,” Becker said. “He can still hit the ball.” McEnroe had trouble enough with Cherkasov and began the match with another dispute with an umpire – this one over the electric-eye line-calling machine. “When we walked on the court they said we were playing by the machine,” McEnroe said. “”If the beep went off, it was out, and if it didn’t it was in. So I hit a serve in the first game, and the beep didn’t go off, and they called it out. [The umpire] just sort of lied his way out of it.” McEnroe paced around angrily, but returned to serve before getting himself in trouble. The dispute, which never approached the feverish pitch of the tantrum that got him thrown out two years ago, nevertheless contributed to his service break in that game on the fifth break point against him. McEnroe’s good friend, Australian wild card and 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, fell short in his bid for an upset as he lost a thrilling five-setter Wednesday cash_ao92night to Emilio Sanchez, 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-7(9), 3-6, 6-1 in 3 hours 55 minutes. It wasn’t such a good day for Australia’s Cash, who was fined a tournament record $9,000 for a verbal obscenity against a lines-woman in his five-set loss the night before to 13th-seeded Sanchez. The assessment meant that after collecting his prize money for a first-round victory, Cash lost $2,185 for competing. Aaron Krickstein led an assault on seeded players in today’s morning play, beating No. 10 Goran Ivanisevic 6-2, 7-5, 6-1, in what the Croation called “the worst match I’ve ever played in my life.” Ivanisevic had 49 unforced errors to 13 by Krickstein. “I like to think I had a little bit of something to do with this,” Krickstein said. “The way I play him, keeping him back, works really well. The way we match up, I think I can beat him every time. He’s had a reputation for packing it in. I knew if I could get a lead, I’d be in good shape.”  Jim Courier said Thursday: “The beauty of it is that people recognize me more with my hat on, so when I go on the street and take my hat off, I’m kind of incognito,” after reaching the third round with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 victory over young Swedish hotshot Thomas Enqvist [190]. Courier stared in disbelief at a backhand by Enqvist that kissed the line near the corner to finish off the sixth game of the first set and gave him a 5:1 lead. In the second set, though, Courier ‘s own serves seemed crisper and more accurate as he opened with a service winner and produced an ace to take the first game. That was the signal to Enqvist that, although he might model his style after Courier, he is not quite at the same level yet. Enqvist’s undoing, ultimately, appeared more mental than physical, as he double-faulted at deuce, with Courier leading 5:4 in the fourth set, then netted an easy backhand volley on match-point. 18-year-old Enqvist, the best junior at the time, was announced in ’92 as a possible successor of Borg and Wilander.

Third round: The Associated Press

John McEnroe turned back the clock today with a virtuoso performance that ousted defending champion Boris Becker from the Australian Open, with McEnroe winning 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. Becker succumbed in the 11th game of the final set after five break points. When Becker, who fended off three break points in his previous service game, hit a backhand long for the break, McEnroe pumped both fists, and the crowd roared, sensing the upset in the making. McEnroe served successive aces, his fifth and sixth of the match, to go to match point at 40/30, then watched Becker’s last shot, a backhand, float long for the final point. McEnroe raised both arms to the crowd and flashed the most satisfied smile he had shown in a long time, then whacked a ball high into the stands after shaking Becker’s hand at the net. McEnroe again pumped his arms in the air as the crowd’s cheers intensified. Becker, who had eight aces but none in the first set, never could raise his game to the level he has shown in the past. Rather, he stomped around the court, angrily berating himself as he did when he lost the Wimbledon final to Michael Stich last year. “Nothing goes!” Becker screamed in German at one point. “Trash, Trash!” he yelled on another occasion. McEnroe played so fluidly that in one stretch, he lost only four points in four service games from the end of the first set to the middle of the second. Rather than relying only on touch volleys and finesse, McEnroe matched Becker’s power with plenty of his own as he put away approach shots and backpedaling overheads. The two players exchanged service breaks early in all three sets, but it was McEnroe who came up with the key points. After McEnroe held serve at 5:4 in the first set, Becker moved ahead 15/0 before McEnroe ripped off five straight points, pouncing on two second serves to break for the set. On serve at 4:3 in the second set, McEnroe again bore down. On the third deuce, he made back-to-back great returns off Becker’s first serve. The German netted the first, then mis-hit the second. “This is a big monkey off my back,” McEnroe said. “It’s been so long since I had such a big win. I can’t even remember.” The unseeded McEnroe, a heavy underdog, electrified a capacity crowd on the 15,000-seat center court stadium with a brilliant exhibition of aggressive tennis that kept the third-seeded Becker defensive and off-balance. Patrick McEnroe‘s magic at the Australian Open ran out in a draining five-setter against Andrei Chesnokov after 92 errors capped by a double-fault into the net on match point. McEnroe, a semifinalist last year, fell 6-4, 1-6, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 in a third- round match Friday about six hours before his brother John was scheduled to play against defending champion Boris Becker. Chesnokov broke the younger McEnroe in his last three service games, the final time with the help of an unforced error wide by McEnroe on an easy backhand at deuce. That was followed by two weak serves on match point. It was an error-filled baseline duel from the start, with Chesnokov making just fewer mistakes to take the first set. But the Russian recovered from a long lapse in the second and third sets to wear down McEnroe. David Wheaton, happy with his $2 million prize at the Grand Slam Cup but hoping to win an actual Grand Slam title this year, reached the fourth round with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Lars Koslowski. Wheaton pounded out five of his 10 aces in the final set. Jim Courier doesn’t stroke the ball so much as he rears back and tries to knock the fuzz off it. Australian Open fans watch him with a sense of awe, gasping at the power of his shots. He was ranked No. 25 and little-known a year ago, a fourth-round loser who rarely gathered a crowd. This time he’s No. 2 and everyone wants to watch him. “I’m not afraid to win, and I’m not afraid to lose,” said Courier, who hit nearly every shot full tilt in reaching the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Thomas Muster on Saturday. Courier, winner of the French Open and runner-up at the U.S. Open, has an unseeded path to the semifinals, where he could face sore-armed Wimbledon champion Michael Stich. Michael Chang [16], a master of the five-set match, got a lesson in comeback skills from a rangy Dutchman with a blistering serve. Chang, who had an 11-2 record in five-set matches, lost in a three-hour battle to [45] Richard Krajicek, 6-4, 6-1, 5-7, 1-6, 6-3. Chang lost the first two sets to Krajicek, who was serving for the match at 5:4 in the third. But Krajicek’s game suddenly fell apart on a pair of double faults as Chang broke to start a string of eight straight games. When Chang held to take the fourth set in only 23 minutes, Krajicek looked dejected, his 125 mph serve faltering and his ground-strokes erratic. “I thought he was getting a little tired,” Chang said. “The fourth set, he wasn’t there.” Krajicek countered: “He just played good. Every time I served and volleyed, he’d hit a good return or passing shot. I was really trying but he played better.” After breaking Chang to move ahead 5:3, Krajicek finished him off with three aces sandwiched around an overhead. “When his serve is working,” said Chang, “he’s dangerous for anyone.” “I got the rhythm back in my serve in the fifth set and I was very confident,” Krajicek said. “I had a whole different attitude serving for the match in the third set than I did in the fifth set.” Krajicek said his height was the result of a late growth spurt. “Until I was 16, I was very small, so my serve was the least important part of my game. I had good technique but I just put it in play.” In his previous major, Krajicek choked badly leading 2-0 in sets against Ivan Lendl at the US Open 1991. A grumpy Michael Stich, still struggling to find the form that carried him to the Wimbledon title, survived another subpar outing in downing Martin Jaite 6-0, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 and also advancing to the round of 16. MaliVai Washington, who beat No. 16 Goran Prpic in the second round, lost to Australia’s Wally Masur 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Perhaps the 14th-seeded Chang should have stopped and watched Aaron Krickstein before taking center court against Krajicek. Krickstein, another long-match specialist, ran his five-set record to 22-6, ousting Alexander Volkov 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(2), 6-1, 8-6 in four hours. Omar Camporse beat Lars-Anders Wahlgren 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(15) – the longest tie-break at the Australian Open at the time, the record has been beaten since 2007 (Tsonga vs. Roddick).

Fourth round: The Associated Press

One of the most amazing topsy-turvy 5-setters in the Garnd Slam history: John McEnroe, obeying his self-imposed gag order on court, stayed cool in blistering 124-degree heat (51 Celsius!!) and pulled off a five-set, 4-hour, 41-minute “McMiracle” at the Australian Open on Sunday. McEnroe, three games from a straight-sets victory and spot in the quarterfinals, endured a comeback by the younger Emilio Sanchez, the 13th seed, and won 7-5, 7-6(4), 4-6, 2-6, 8-6 on his sixth match point. Unlike McEnroe’s three-set victory over defending champion Boris Becker, a match played on a chilly night against a powerful serve-and-volleyer, McEnroe had to cope this time with a burning court and a baseliner. He had to stave off three match points himself in the fifth set. Fellow American [30] Aaron Krickstein yielded to heat exhaustion and nausea early today, quitting at 6-2, 4-6, 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-1 against Israeli Amos Mansdorf [65]. On the changeover after the fifth game of the fifth set, Krickstein slumped into his chair and told the umpire he couldn’t go on. Krickstein had one of the best records in five-setters, 22-6, before the match, and had beaten Mansdorf in the four of their five meetings. Mansdorf advanced to the last 8 in a major for the first time on the fourth attempt in the fourth round. On Sunday, McEnroe ruled the net with his quickness, touch volleys and overheads in the first two sets, forcing Sanchez to change his tactics and venture away from the baseline. “He was fighting a lot, keeping the pressure on me all the time,” Sanchez said. “I had to be more aggressive.” As Sanchez attacked more in the third set, McEnroe began to wilt, appearing to show the six-year age difference with the 26-year-old Spaniard. “He picked up the pace and served and volleyed effectively,” McEnroe said. “I knew, in one sense, he was getting desperate and was doing something he wasn’t comfortable with, but it went in his favor. But I also knew in the final set, he couldn’t make up his mind whether to come in or stay back.” Sanchez, trailing 3:2 in the third set, held, then broke McEnroe to 4:3 as McEnroe wearily hit an indifferent backhand wide. The fourth set turned into a rest stop for McEnroe, who seemed to drift through it while awaiting his chance in the fifth set. At the moment of truth in the fifth set, McEnroe reached deep inside and found the strength to win. The fifth set boiled down to missed opportunities. McEnroe squandered a triple match point when he was leading 5:4, and Sanchez blew three match points on serve while leading 6:5 (including 40/15, Sanchez served his only double fault in the entire match!). McEnroe held serve at 7:6 with a delicate and gutsy forehand drop volley at 40-15, then jumped on Sanchez’s serve for a 0/30 lead with a backhand volley on the second point. Sanchez netted an easy backhand, giving McEnroe two more match points, but the first was wasted with a backhand into the net on a passing attempt. Sanchez saved his fifth match point with a forehand pass cross-court. McEnroe finally ended the incredible duel on his sixth match point with a forehand into the corner. McEnroe wrapped his arms around Sanchez in an affectionate hug. “This is just unbelievable,” McEnroe said of what he remembered thinking as he approached Sanchez after the match. “It’s one of those things where a handshake is not sufficient. ” Jim Courier, the No. 2 seed, played in the same heat on a court buffeted by strong, warm breezes early today, and escaped with a much easier victory, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3, over unseeded Marc Rosset to reach the quarters. Courier watched the McEnroe match in awe of their struggle, but didn’t envy missing the drama of a long five-setter. “My legs are very happy to sneak through in straight sets,” Courier said, adding that he’d love to play McEnroe in this tournament. “Absolutely. That’d mean I’m in the final.”

Quarterfinals: Steve Wilstein

No. 1 Stefan Edberg won another epic five-setter against longtime nemesis Ivan Lendl to reach the Australian Open semifinals today, while No. Jim Courier quietly joined him with a third consecutive three-set victory. Edberg evened his five-set record against Lendl at two apiece with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-1 victory in their 25th career duel. On a strength-sapping, hot and muggy afternoon, Edberg showed he had recovered fully from his two-month injury-induced layoff. He raised the level of his game as the match wore on and seemed surprised to see the normally indefatigable Lendl wilt in the third and fifth sets of the 3-hour, 10-minute match. “I didn’t really have too much chance in the beginning,” said Edberg, who found his opportunity at last with Lendl serving at 5:4 in the 2nd set. Lendl made three unforced errors, all on forehands, the last one drifting long for a break. In terms of scoreline they had almost identical match over four sets in the ferreira_ao92Aussie Open semifinal a year before, when Lendl won 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. John McEnroe‘s magical run at the Australian Open came to an end today at the hands of a 20-year-old who has never won a professional tournament. Wayne Ferreira [46], a South African, gave McEnroe a thorough beating with a booming serve and stinging ground-strokes. His 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory earned him a semifinal meeting Friday with top-seeded Stefan Edberg. McEnroe, owner of one of the best service returns in tennis, had to watch as Ferreira blasted 15 aces and numerous winners. His go-for-broke style meant that when he missed, he missed badly. But he didn’t miss often in the two-hour whipping. “I came out very strong,” Ferreira said. “I felt right from the start of the match that I could win that quick.” McEnroe, broken once in each set, could manage only three break points. Ferreira had at least one ace in each of his first 10 service games. He finished off the first set with ace No. 6 and the second set with No. 13. The left-hander from New York watched Ferreira’s almost flawless display in disbelief, often standing with hands on hips after watching winners zing by for two hours. “He just played too good,” McEnroe said. “He outplayed me. I had heard through friends that Ferreira was a big talent.” Jim Courier had no trouble disposing of Amos Mansdorf, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, to go into his third Grand Slam semifinal. Courier won the French Open last year and was runner-up to Edberg in the U.S. Open. “Any time you can get into the deep end of the second week of the Grand Slams, it’s fantastic,” Courier said. “I’m playing well.” Richard Krajicek, that tall stranger from the Netherlands, pulled out his racket Wednesday and fired winner after winner at Wimbledon champion Michael Stich, winding up in the semifinals of the Australian Open. With a 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-4 victory, he was one of two virtually unknown players advancing to the round of four. Krajicek had 22 aces, Stich 15 in the match. Between them, they had 108 serves that failed to make it back into play. Baseline rallies? Not with these two around. Stich, who rose rapidly through the ranks last year to gain his current No. 5 ranking, is well-known for his serve. But Krajicek, at 20 the youngest player left in the men’s draw (three months younger than Ferreira), quickly has earned a reputation for his, too. “I thought I was playing against me out there,” Stich said. Krajicek’s serve, clocked as high as 129 mph, is his biggest weapon and has taken him to the No. 40 ranking since he turned pro in 1989. Stich only broke him once in 28 service games. But the 20-year-old Krajicek’s accumulation of aces slowed as the match went on. Several times he rubbed the shoulder, and his first-serve accuracy and speed dropped markedly. Stich commented after the match that he thought Krajicek tired in the heat and humidity, and his serves lost some of their sting. Krajicek became my favorite player after that match and it maintained until the end of his career 11 years later.

Semifinals: (AP)

The No. 1 Stefan Edberg, who played impeccably to crush Courier in the U.S. Open final last summer, looked only slightly less perfect in stopping upstart Wayne Ferreira 7-6(2), 6-1, 6-2. Ferreira, the conqueror of John McEnroe, held two set-points on Edberg’s service at 6:5 in the first set, but blew them both with forehand errors as his confidence and game drifted away. Ferreira, who aced McEnroe 15 times, double-faulted nine times in six games starting at the beginning of the second set. At 4:1 in that set, he double-faulted twice to give Edberg a 5:1 lead. Ferreira managed only one ace in the last two sets after hitting four in the first set. He also committed 58 unforced errors to Edberg’s 21. “I think once I got the first set, I got on top of him and his game fell apart,” Edberg said. “He started making errors and I took advantage of that. I’m playing good tennis.” Looking ahead to the final against No. 2 Courier, Edberg said, “It’s going to be good – No. 1 against No. 2. I like that.” Richard Krajicek‘s booming serve carried him to the semifinals of the Australian Open. Now it could force him out of the tournament. The lanky 6-foot-4 Dutchman blasted 22 aces in beating Wimbledon champion Michael Stich on Wednesday. But the five-set match and the two weeks of daily strain have taken their toll – Krajicek was forced to withdraw from a semifinals doubles match today because of tendinitis in his shoulder. He was examined by a doctor, but there was no immediate decision on his status for Friday’s match against second-seeded Jim Courier. Despite his size, the unseeded Krajicek looks a little fragile at 175 pounds (79 kg), and has been working out in a gym to add bulk to his frame (he added 10 kg to his posture later on). Krajicek and fellow Dutchman Jan Siemerink were leading their doubles match today 6-4, 1-3 against Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge when he called it quits for the day. Krajicek withdrew from his semifinal match against Courier.To make the semifinals in singles and doubles, and to have to default, is unbelievable. It’s almost tragic,” Courier said. “The upside is I’m in the final. The downside is I don’t get to play. You like to be in a rhythm going into the final of tournament.”

Final: Steve Wilstein

Jim Courier, ascending within a notch of the No. 1 ranking, beat Stefan Edberg to become the first American winner of the Australian Open in 10 years and capture a second Grand Slam title. Courier, dominated thoroughly by Edberg in the 1991 U.S. Open after beating him en route to the French Open crown, drove a final backhand return past Edberg to win early today, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. “This tastes just as sweet,” said Courier, 21, comparing his Australian title with the French. “It’s a little bit different because I’ve done it before. But it’s no less significant.” The victory marked another milestone in Courier ‘s amazing rise from No. 25 a year ago. He ended 1991 with the No. 2 ranking, and can take No. 1 away from Edberg within the next few months (he did it already two weeks later advancing to the San Francisco final, Edberg took a week off at the same time). No American has been No. 1 since John McEnroe in 1985. Edberg, who missed the last two months of 1991 with wrist and knee injuries, played far below his near-perfect form in the U.S. Open. “I didn’t have the timing today,” Edberg said. “I didn’t play the big points as well. It wasn’t my day today. He played a good, solid match, and took advantage of the opportunities I gave him.” The absence from tennis, he said, “was bound to catch up with me sooner or later.” Courier, of Dade City, Fla., who reached the final without meeting a seeded player, pounded two-fisted backhands and short, punchy forehands with enough force to keep Edberg, a two-time Australian champion, either pinned on the baseline or off-balance at the net. Courier’s backhand was his most important stroke, accounting for 28 winners. Edberg’s backhand, meanwhile, lacked authority and accuracy, perhaps weakened by the forearm strain he suffered before the tournament. Edberg seemed oddly edgy most of the match, complaining about the “softness” of the balls and a couple of line calls. Despite the loud support of Swedish fans with faces painted the blue and yellow colors of their flag, Edberg couldn’t summon the strength he showed in New York. Courier broke Edberg for the first time to 4:2 in the first set when Edberg double-faulted for the first of seven times in the match, then hit a weak volley into the net on a strong backhand return at break point. Courier fought off a break point at 5:3, 30/40 when Edberg netted three straight backhands. Edberg evened the match in the second set, breaking Courier to 2:0 with a beautiful lob that landed on the baseline for the last point. Edberg had a game point to level at 5 games apiece in the 3rd set, but at deuce committed two straight double faults! In the 4th set it was all about Courier since he served an ace trailing 0/30 at 2 all. The American won 17 out of 21 points since then finishing the match with a backhand return winner… It was Courier’s fifth title, the first one since Roland Garros 1991. None player had won as little titles as Courier thus far, having two different major triumphs. Stats of the final.

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Australian Open, Melbourne
January 18, 1993; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $1,942,170; Surface – Hard

Jim Courier and Stefan Edberg met in the final again. This time Courier displayed almost flawless tennis in the fortnight, losing just one set (against the Swede) outplaying four former/future Grand Slam champions in his last four matches. It was Courier’s fourth and last major title. The American was 22-years-old at the time. In turn four years older Edberg never again advanced to the final of a Grand Slam event.
All scorelines
First round: Steve Wilstein

courier_ao93Jim Courier showed no smugness, no glee at the ouster of Boris Becker, but you got the feeling he couldn’t wait to go back to his room, high-five his coach, and scream, “Yeah!” OK, so Courier had just gotten through the first round of the Australian Open, dispatching Lars Jonsson 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 today. “I didn’t play in the Grand Slam Cup; I took that week off and laid on the beach,” said Courier. “You have to let your body rest occasionally. You can’t just keep pushing yourself. I thought I played well today. I certainly don’t want to peak if I can help it this early, but that’s not really under my control.” No. 151-ranked Anders Jarryd, had knocked off No. 4 Becker in five sets and taken out the toughest threat Courier was likely to face until the final. Maybe Courier would do a little dance, abandon for one crazy moment that discreet nonchalance he affects in public and shows only on occasion in private. The fourth-seeded Becker, the 1991 champion, played listless, uninspired tennis on a sore leg, his vaunted serve neither sharp nor hard, his volleys weak as he faded 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 against a player who had dropped from No. 5 in the mid-1980s to No. 151. Becker, who had 10 double-faults and 8 aces in the 3-hour, 41-minute match, blamed his loss on an injury to his right thigh suffered shortly before the tournament.  “I couldn’t move on my first serve,” the three-time Wimbledon champion said. “That’s the muscle I use when I serve, when I run.” The injury was evident in his slowness and lack of power, though he didn’t limp on the court. Jarryd said he never even noticed that Becker was hurt. Becker said he considered pulling out of the tournament before it began, but decided to give it a shot after flying all the way here. He had been in top form toward the end of 1992, then took a six-week break before playing in a tournament in Qatar, where he won both the singles and doubles. Flinging his racket at times, yelling at himself on occasion, Becker tried but failed to raise the level of his game to counter the smooth, almost effortless mix of spins and flat shots Jarryd hit at him. Becker had lost only once before in the first round of a Grand Slam event – the 1990 French Open – but his defeat seemed just a matter of time Monday when he netted an easy backhand volley to fall behind 3:1 in the fourth set. Becker cringed in disgust, his arms wrapped around his head as if he wished he could hide. But it wasn’t even time for a changeover, and Becker stayed on court, his errors and unusually weak serves exposed for everyone to see and Jarryd to punish. Jarryd, a 32-year-old who had plenty of support from his countrymen painted in the blue and yellow colors of their flag, held serve the rest of the set and then throughout the final set. Jarryd relied less on power than he did on craftiness – serves that krajicek_ao93kicked right and left, a blend of baseline shots and volleys. “I haven’t done well in singles in a very long, long time,” said Jarryd. Left out of the main singles draw here, Jarryd had to win three matches just to qualify: “It was the first time in a long time that I can ever remember having to qualify. I wanted to play a lot of tennis and get ready for the doubles. But when I saw Boris in the draw, I figured it would be too tough for me.” Dutchman Richard Krajicek, a semifinalist in 1992, opened the $5 million Australian Open tennis tournament today with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 drubbing of Lars-Anders Wahlgren of Sweden. “I was holding serve quite easy, and that’s a sign that it was quite an easy match,” said No. 9 Krajicek, who didn’t face a break point in the 80-minute match: “I think I did a good job today.”  Pulling out the old around-the-back trick, Michael Chang stunned his giant intimidator in the Australian Open today and cut him down with one swift shot. Chang whipped his racket around his body midway through the first set and drove back an overhead by Chris Bailey, a lanky 6-foot-5-inch Briton who towered nine inches over the American and tried to bludgeon him at the net. They had played evenly until that moment, the set on serve after Chang fought off five break points to go ahead 4:3. “What happened was I overran the ball so I didn’t have much of a choice,” Chang said. Chang broke the dispirited Bailey with crosscourt forehand pass, and the early tension evaporated like a small puddle on a hot day. “That actually ended up being a pretty big point,” Chang said. “After the first set, Chris didn’t seem like he was really into the match.” Winning 15 of the last 17 games in the 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 romp, the No. 6 Chang showed the kind of all-court game he’ll need to challenge No. 1 Courier, the defending champion, if they meet in the semifinals. Chang has a tough second-round match, though, facing David Wheaton, who beat Sandon Stolle 7-6(5), 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. No. 2 seed Stefan Edberg, giving himself a present on his 27th birthday, had an easy time reaching the second round, beating Leonardo Lavalle 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Patrick McEnroe, a semifinalist here two years ago, took an early exit this time as he fell to Arnaud Boetsch 6-4, 6-4, 6-1. McEnroe sounded upset about his failure to build on his success in 1991. “At this moment, I’m going to quit tomorrow,” he said, with a hint of smile to show he wasn’t really serious. “I still think I can play good tennis. I’m just going to keep trying and then evaluate the situation. Let’s say I don’t win another singles match all year, I probably wouldn’t want to play anymore. But I’m hoping to play a few more years.” Ivan Lendl faded fast from the Australian, disappearing in the first round, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 against Christian Bergstrom in a match that showed how far Lendl has sunk and how far he must come back to win again. The bergstrom_ao93thought of him quitting the game arose not so much from the way he played – awkward, tentative, his strokes out of synch after a long layoff from a groin injury – nor from the fact that he hadn’t lost in the first round of a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 1981. “You have to start somewhere, somehow,” said Lendl, who won this tournament in 1989 and 1990. “And the best time to start is when you’re healthy. There’s no reason to wait when you are feeling good. It really wasn’t a difficult decision.” The match would prove more problematic, as the 62d-ranked Bergstrom proved steadier and more imaginative from the baseline, making only 17 unforced errors to Lendl’s 43. The slender Swede was also slightly more effective on serve, although he, too, was broken seven times. “My game plan was to make him a little bit insecure on the court,” said Bergstrom, who received plenty of boisterous support from the same youthful, flag-waving Swedish fans who cheered Jarryd to victory against Becker on Monday. “I was watching that match in the apartment, and I got so psyched up,” Bergstrom said. “Anders showed that, especially in the first rounds, you can beat these guys.” Apparently, only Bergstrom took the lesson to heart, because the rest of the seeds had no problem living up to their billings as temperatures remained reasonably cool for the second straight day. In the second five-setter in history in which four tie-breaks were required before a 5th set, Richard Fromberg prevailed a battle of two almost 2-meter tall men against [142] Markus Zoecke 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 6-7(9), 6-3 after 4 1/2 hours. The Australian served 32 aces, there were four breaks in the tie-break sets, in the final set, Fromberg broke twice.

Second round: (AP)

Jim Courier lost his stoic calm along with four match points in the Australian Open on Wednesday before finishing with a rare flourish of curses, an obscene gesture and one final forehand winner no one could dispute. “When I get screwed over, I tend to get a little upset,” Courier sneered after a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Robbie Weiss in the second round. “It’s just that the match should have been over, and here I am playing a few more points. The balls were landing precariously close to the line, and I kept getting the wrong side of the calls.” A profane tirade followed a shot by Weiss that Courier let go, thinking it would go wide. When it was called good, Courier cursed Australian umpire Wayne McKewen. Courier went on to lose the game, his service broken, but still led 5:4. At 0-40 on Weiss’ serve, Courier complained about another call and was warned by McKewen for an obscene hand gesture. That cost Courier a $1,000 fine. One more chance lost, one more flood of curses, and then Courier ended it with a shot Weiss couldn’t reach and the linesman couldn’t deny. wheaton_ao93“Every ball I hit in close was called out, and every ball he hit out was called in,” said Courier, who so far has avoided the ambushes that knocked off Becker and Lendl in the first round. The sixth-seeded Michael Chang, who looked sharp in his first-round match Tuesday, ran into an old nemesis to become the fourth men’s seed to lose in three days. He fell 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 to unseeded David Wheaton, who holds a 5-1 advantage in head-to-head confrontations. Chang seemed uncomfortable and never got into a rhythm against Wheaton, who has done little since winning $2 million in the 1991 Grand Slam Cup except beat Chang. “It’s funny because I know exactly what he’s going to do. I was itching and ready to go,” said Chang, who can’t seem to come up with the crisp passing shots against Wheaton that he does against other serve-and-volley players. “It’s something that’s frustrating a little bit.” Wheaton said of the chaotic victory: “There was the wind coming up, stuff blowing all over the place. The flies were sticking to me like glue. And then the shadow was moving across the court, so I’d serve and I didn’t know what side of the shadow to run in on. The volley was starting from the shadow and going into the light.” Pity the players, but save some for the innocent bystanders. Six fans fainted, five ball boys suffered heat exhaustion and about 25 others were treated for heat-induced nausea and headaches. But as they say in Melbourne, if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes. Any minute, it’ll rain, the retractable roof will close, and the flies and birds will disappear. The key, Wheaton said, is concentration. witskenWheaton said ignoring the money, the endorsements, the rankings, and especially right now, the birds and flies and breezes and shadows that can conspire to throw him off. “That`s why the best players are the best,” he said, “because they can concentrate for longer periods of time like that and play a higher level of tennis. That’s what I’m really trying to do.” Richard Krajicek, the hard-serving Dutchman was another seeded loser when Todd Witsken [111], fresh from the snow of Indiana, pressured him from the beginning and took a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 second-round victory. For the 30-year-old Witsken, who died prematurely five years later, it was third and last big win in majors (he had beaten Jimmy Connors at US Open ’85 & Brad Gilbert at US Open ’89). Inside and outside Down Under, the Australian Open showed its versatility today. Pete Sampras, the men’s No. 3 seed, smacked 13 aces to offset eight double faults in beating Sweden’s Magnus Larsson, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, in open air under a cloudy sky to reach the third round. The courtside temperature dropped more than 60 degrees from yesterday’s 129-degree high (53 Celsius!), and damp breezes that followed morning and early-afternoon rain chilled the players and made balls move slowly. “The huge, drastic temperature change made the conditions heavier. As a result, I didn’t think I served as well,” Sampras said. “It was cool today, and the court was playing slow. When it’s hot, it plays quicker.” Unseeded Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, an 18-year-old with a mature game, funny lines and the look of a future champion, charged into the third round 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 over Germany’s Lars Koslowski. Michael Stich, No. 14, came close to losing, hanging on by 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 against Fabrice Santoro. Sweden’s Stefan Edberg had no trouble at all blitzing Czech-born German David Prinosil, 6-2, 6-0, 6-1.

Third round: (AP)

Kelly Jones, a former Pepperdine All-American, upset David Wheaton, 0-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, today to reach the round of 16 in the Australian Open. “I just laugh that I’m here because it’s been a long time since I won any singles match in any draw,” said Jones, ranked 447th in the world. Jones allowed himself “just a few giggles” after he upset Wheaton, the man who had upset Michael Chang two days ago. Jones won his first Grand Slam singles match at the 1987 Australian, but in six years as a professional he has won only one other singles match in a Grand Slam event – the first round of Wimbledon in 1990. Meanwhile, Jones had carved out a niche for himself in doubles, most successfully with Rick Leach, who he paired with to reach the No. 1 ranking in the world last October. “I had a good attitude about coming here,” Jones said. “Last year was a great year. I made good money playing doubles, but I wanted to try and make a little move for singles this year because I’ve had some success. I feel like I’m coming into my peak. It may be a young man’s sport, but there’s no reason that between the ages of 28 and 3 edberg_ao932, if you’re in good shape, that you can’t play good tennis. Jimmy Connors is a prime example of that.” Stefan Edberg teetered on the edge of an upset today at the Australian Open, coming back from a third-set drubbing and seven break points in the fourth against Amos Mansdorf to reach the round of 16. The second-seeded Edberg, boosted by the chanting of Swedish fans who annoyed Mansdorf, especially during the closing tie-break, had to dig himself out of trouble repeatedly in the fourth set before winning, 6-3, 6-1, 1-6, 7-6(5). A two-time Australian champion and runner-up two of the last three years, Edberg succumbed to Mansdorf’s passing shots in the third set and had problems on his serve. He was called for more than half a dozen foot faults overall and three in the final set. In the third and ninth games of the fourth set, Edberg fell behind by 0/40 but each time clawed back to hold service. Mansdorf also held throughout the set, but he fell behind by 2:1 on his serve in the tie-break on an overhead by Edberg. Edberg grimaced after the shot, as if he had irritated the abdominal muscle that has bothered him in the past and forced him to quit in the fourth set of the 1990 Australian final against Ivan Lendl. Playing in 108-degree heat this time, Edberg wasted his advantage while serving at 5:3 in the tiebreak. He was called for a foot fault on his first serve, then hit a backhand into the net. But a backhand hit barely wide by Mansdorf gave Edberg match point at 6:5. He didn’t blow this chance, serving deep to Mansdorf’s backhand and watching the return float long. Third-ranked Pete Sampras swept six straight points to come back from 5:1 in a first-set tiebreaker, and beat Alex Antonitsch 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-2 to reach the round of 16. Antonitsch’s rather innocent offense occurred after he lunged for a backhand volley and clunked it off the frame just over the net. That gave Antonitsch a 5:1 lead in the tiebreaker, and after the changeover the Austrian sort of apologized to Sampras for the ‘lucky shot’ waving his racket to him and the crowd before serving. “The people were cheering and everybody thought it was a great shot,”  said the No. 110-ranked Antonitsch, who annoyed Sampras earlier in the match by playing up cockily to the crowd.“I just said, Sorry,because I hit it on the frame.”  Sampras didn’t take it as an apology. He thought Antonitsch was rubbing it in, needling him at the wrong moment, wasting time when Sampras wanted to get on with the match. “Are we going to play tennis or what?” Sampras shouted angrily. “I’m trying to say it was off the frame. I’m sorry,” Antonitsch shouted back, still waving his racket. “I was frustrated and not playing that great,” Sampras said afterward, “and for him to do that, it was the last thing I wanted to see or hear. I don’t want to see that it was a lucky shot. I just want to play the next point.” Antonitsch maintained later he wasn’t using any gamesmanship on Sampras at 5:1. “Why should I try anything?” he said. “I mean, if I make him angry, he plays better, so I wasn’t trying anything at that point.”  Sampras got angry anyway, and he played better, taking control while Antonitsch shrank away. There were three five setters: Sergi Bruguera defeated Jan Siemerink 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 9-7; Michael Stich notched second straight five-set win overcoming Jason Stoltenberg 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(0), 4-6, 6-1; and 23-year-old American Chris Garner [220] made a similar sensation to Jones eliminating his compatriot Todd Witsken 6-1, 6-1, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4. “When you play matches like this one, you certainly lose the energy, but a win in those matches give you a lot of confidence” said Bruguera, who saved a triple mini-match point at 5-all in the 5th set and kept his composure when the Dutchman won a game from a triple match point down. Garner never won a match on main-level again (seven defeats), and finished his career prematurely one year later. Jim Courier‘s 10th straight victim in the Australian Open, dating back to last year’s championship run, crumbled with only a mild fuss. Courier, the men’s top seed, won his third match this week without dropping a set, beating bespectacled Guillaume Raoux, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. The Frenchman had all the talent to keep the match close, steady groundstrokes and a decent serve, but no serious weapons to really threaten Courier. “I’m actually hoping it gets hot. I like it,” korda_ao93Courier said, unfazed by the 108-degree courtside heat. “I’m from Florida. I’m used to the heat, and it’s to my advantage.” If the Courier victory lacked drama, the departure of 18-year-old Andrei Medvedev after his 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) loss to No. 7 Petr Korda was nothing short of entertaining. The final point came on a net cord by Korda that just trickled over out of Medvedev’s reach. ”I think I deserved to lose this match on the net cord,” said Medvedev, a charismatic Ukrainian who wore a Chicago Bulls cap. ‘‘I played a very, very bad match. Really, if I do the net cord, I wouldn’t even take it. I would say, ‘Let’s play let.’ Sometimes it happens to me, sometimes it happens to somebody else. But today it was very good. It was like a Tyson punch, boom, the end.”  The 6-foot-4 Medvedev berated himself for “ridiculous” and “absolutely wrong” tennis, playing to Korda’s strengths. And he knew he was in trouble from the start. “On the warm-up, I was feeling guilty,” he said. And he didn’t blame the officials, even though he questioned some calls.

Fourth round: Paul Alexander, Christopher Clarey

If the first week was any indication, Jim Courier is quite capable of taking one more celebratory dip in the nearby Yarra River. Playing under the closed roof of the Stadium Court on Sunday evening, he easily advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over No. 15 seed Sergi Bruguera of Spain. In four matches, Courier has yet to drop a set. “I really hammered the ball today,” he said. “That was good, because I needed to go out and unload on some groundstrokes. This was really the way I was hoping to play.” Courier had to rally to win the third set. After stich_ao93trailing by 5:3*, he fought back to even the score at 5:5, then promptly fell behind, 0/40, on his serve. Playing aggressively, he won the next five points, two of them at the net. “When you’re down 0-40, there’s no reason to make yourself feel any worse,” said Courier. His next opponent will be No. 7 seed Petr Korda, whom he beat in last year’s French Open final. Korda outplayed American qualifier Chris Garner in a two-day match, 7-5, 6-3, 6-1. Korda led 3:0 in the 3rd set when rain washed out play for the rest of the day on the outside courts. Michael Stich, aided by rain that turned his losing effort outdoors into a victory indoors, capped a 22-ace show Sunday with the fastest serve of the Australian Open – 131 mph. Stich, the 1991 Wimbledon champion trying to recover his form after falling to No. 14, was losing, 7-6, 3:2*, to Kenneth Carlsen [73] when the rain hit. When they resumed, under the stadium’s closed sliding roof, Stich gained an advantage as the stronger serve-and-volley player on an indooJim Courierr court. Balls move faster on this rubberized hard surface indoors, and Stich quickly turned around the match, winning, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-0. “The last two sets I played my best tennis in awhile,” said Stich, who ended the match with that 131-mph ace. It’s interesting that 19-year-old Carlsen, for whom it was Grand Slam debut, never reached the last 16 in majors again, despite 45 more appearances. No. 2 Stefan Edberg, a two-time winner here, had back spasms so bad he had to withdraw from the doubles yesterday and was uncertain for his match against France’s Arnaud Boetsch until he was cleared after a morning workout. The stoic Swede, wearing a wrap for support, refused to drop out of the tournament that has been something of a jinx for him since it was moved from the grass of nearby Kooyong. Injuries have forced him to pull out twice. Edberg beat Boetsch 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a quarterfina in a match that showed how far Lendl has sunk and how far he must come back to win again. The l meeting with Swede Christian Bergstrom, who knocked off his second seeded player, No. 10 Wayne Ferreira of South Africa, 6-4, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 (Bergstrom after almost identical scoreline ousted Lendl in the first round). “Right from the beginning I felt good,” Edberg said. “I didn’t try anything fancy. I kept it simple and it worked. It was like a dream. It couldn’t have gone any better. Straight sets and only 1 1/2 hours was ideal. The last thing I wanted was a long match.” Edberg’s serve was slower than usual, but there was nothing wrong with his trademark volleys. He charged the net 91 times and won 59 of the stevenpoints, keeping constant pressure on the Frenchman. “He ate me up,” Boetsch said. “I felt like a little boy.” No. 3 Pete Sampras ousted fellow American MaliVai Washington 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and next will meet Brett Steven [71] of New Zealand, who fought off two match points today to beat Australia’s Richard Fromberg 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 6-7(5), 6-1, 8-6 in a 4 1/2-hour battle of unseeded players. “I’m too tired to think straight,” said Steven, the first New Zealander to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal since Kelly Evernden in the 1987 Australian. “I really am in a bit of a daze. I won, but I don’t know how.” Fromberg [78], fought back tears afterward: “I’ve just got to fight harder and work harder. This is the most important tournament of the year to me. It’s probably the biggest disappointment.Fromberg played nine tie-breaks in four matches (6-3).

Quarterfinals: Steve Wilstein

Extremely lopsided quarterfinals, in every match, a loser was unable to get at least five games in a set! In a unique strategy, Pete Sampras‘ opponent tried to lull him into a state of ennui in the Australian Open. It didn’t quite work as Sampras stayed alert enough even through a rain delay to smack 14 aces and gained the semifinals today along with Michael Stich, who served 12 aces. No. 3 Sampras, who has a chance to reach No. 1 by winning the title here, beat unseeded Brett Steven 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. No. 14 Stich, hoping to get back into the top 10 after plummeting since his 1991 Wimbledon victory, beat No. 11 Guy Forget 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. In an all-Swedish encounter Stefan Edberg defeteaed Christian Bergstrom 6-4, 6-4, 6-1. For Bergstrom it was second Grand Slam quarterfinal, his previous quarterfinal he lost also to Edberg (Wimbledon ’90) winning just nine games too. It’s interesting that Bergstrom, who was able to reach Grand Slam quarterfinals thrice (third time at Wimbledon ’94), never won an ATP title (two finals in Adelaide).  “He is maybe not as consistent as Jim Courier but when his game is there he’s just as good,” was Forget’s assessment of Stich. “I was hoping he was going to get bored out there, so I’d have a chance,” Steven said. “But he stayed interested too long. Whenever he wanted, he’d produce an ace or a passing shot. When he had the chance, he played magnificently. Maybe if I sampras_ao93could keep the lead in the third set, it would have been a different story. But he had too many weapons for me today.” Sampras said he wasn’t worried about getting bored, “but you might get a little bit careless. It’s a long match, and you can have your ups and downs. But you really can’t be bored playing. You have to play each point like it’s the last one.” Sampras’ victory was his 10th straight, including five here and five in the tuneup tournament he won in Sydney. Like Stich, Sampras has won only one Grand Slam title, the 1990 U.S. Open, but he reached the final there last summer after going to the semis at Wimbledon and the quarters in the French. Australian great Rod Laver believes Sampras has the ability to win all the Grand Slam events in a single year, an achievement only Laver has accomplished twice. Against Steven, a New Zealander who played a fatiguing five-set match in the previous round against Fromberg, Sampras ran into trouble only in the third set. Steven broke Sampras at 30/40 with a forehand cross-court to take a 2:0 lead. Steven led 40/0 in the next game, but Sampras scrambled back to send it to deuce three times before breaking back on a backhand cross-court pass. Sampras held at love, the last point on an ace, to tie the set again just before rain interrupted play. When they resumed about 45 minutes later, Sampras won four of the next five games. Jim Courier hammered out a ruthless message to three rivals for his Australian Open title with a quarterfinal demolition of seventh-seeded Czech Petr Korda on Wednesday. The top-seeded American matched the earlier deeds of Stich, Edberg and Sampras by marching into the last four without dropping a set, leaving Korda to pick up the pieces after a 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 in 1 hour and 39 minutes. The unfortunate Korda, who had been hoping to make amends for his French Open final defeat to Courier last year, was blasted, losing 13 games in a row in one nightmarish sequence. An unforced error count of 50-7 told the story. “Sometimes I wasn’t even seeing the ball,” the Czech said. “Not in the last two years has anyone played against me like that. At the French Open, I was more nervous and inexperienced, but he didn’t play as well as he did today.”

Semifinals: Steve Wilstein

Playing in that sweet spot in time, Australian Open defending champion Jim Courier racked up another nearly perfect victory yesterday to return to the final without dropping a set in six matches. The No. 1-ranked Courier’s cool demeanor and sizzling serves carried him past hot-tempered Michael Stich, 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-2, as the German let line calls and errors rattle him. Courier, 18-0 in sets so far, made only 10 unforced errors against the 1991 Wimbledon champion – just three more than in Courier’s most flawless match ever in the previous round against No. 7 Korda. Brad Stine, Courier’s coach, watched it all with pleasure. “There’s been a big evolution in his game over the last two years,” Stine said. “Most guys would have called Jim Courier a grinder, a baseline basher two years ago. Now we can say he’s an attacking groundstroker, and that’s a big difference. courier_ao93_Now he knows when to attack and where to hit his approach shots. He’s volleying 60 to 70 percent better than two years ago.” Courier quipped that he played better than in the semis last year, when he got a walkover to the final as Richard Krajicek withdrew because of an injury. “I’m happy with the way I’m playing,” Courier said. He yielded only five points on serve in the second set as he consistently pounded the ball in the 110-115 mph range on first serves, yet the set turned more on Stich’s petulance and loss of concentration on one point in the ninth game. After Courier held at love to tie the set 4:4, Stich opened with a double-fault, one of nine he had in the match. Courier then drilled Stich’s next serve back past him for a winner, but Stich furiously complained to the umpire that the serve ticked the net and should have been called a let. It was a curious argument, Stich claiming his own serve wasn’t good, and it bothered him the rest of the game. At deuce, Stich double-faulted again, then bounced his racket angrily on the court. Courier broke Stich on the next point with a forehand cross-court pass, and Stich immediately turned to scream at the woman who was the net cord judge. She responded by going over to the umpire to complain about Stich’s abusive language. Stich was fined $2,000 earlier in the tournament for verbally abusing a 16-year-old lines-woman, to whom he later sent a note of apology. “It just took a little bit off of my concentration,” Stich said of the non-call. “He hesitated and I hesitated. We didn’t want to play but she didn’t call it. It was my problem. I shouldn’t have let it bother me.” Stich thought the match got away from him earlier when Courier raced to a 5:0 lead in the first-set edberg_ao93_tiebreaker, aided by two mini-breaks on crosscourt passes. One of those, on a perfect return, landed on the line, and Courier went on to win on Stich’s volley into the net. “He had a good breaker,” Stich said. “He had a couple of lucky shots on his return. I think the first set was the key set of the match. He likes to be in front mentally. He’s very tough and very consistent. Once he’s ahead, you know you have to play one class better to get ahead or even.” No. 2 Stefan Edberg, still wearing a back support but showing little sign of strain from his injury last week, beat No. 3 Pete Sampras 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-6(3) and for the second time denied the American the chance to vault to No. 1. Edberg couldn’t have been happier, reaching the final here for the fifth time and the 11th time in a Grand Slam event a week after nearly pulling out of the tournament with a pinched nerve and lower back spasms. Aided by Sampras’ volley errors, Edberg pushed the first set to a tiebreaker, came from behind 5:3 and won the set by taking the last four points, the final one when Sampras whacked a forehand volley wide (earlier in the set, Sampras led *4:0, deuce). Sampras seemed to have as many problems keeping his hat on in the 138-degree courtside heat (58 Celsius), missing one overhead as he grabbed the bill of his cap, as he did taming his serve or dealing with shin splints as the match wore on. “When I lost that second set, I got down on myself and started feeling my shins,” he said. “But I really didn’t serve well. That’s the bottom line. My shins were feeling pretty sore, but that’s no excuse. He beat me fair and square. It’s pretty disappointing.” The young American blew a lead also in the 3rd set, he was two points away from winning that set 6-2.

Final: (AP)

In steamy 150-degree courtside heat that made Jim Courier feel right at home, he bullied Stefan Edberg for two sets as few men ever have and survived a stirring comeback Sunday to capture a second straight Australian Open championship. Courier, as fierce as he was in his four-set victory over Edberg in the final a year ago, won his fourth Grand Slam title (10th overall) 6-2, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 and further entrenched himself as No. 1. Courier, who won nearly $280,000 to give him $5.2 million in career prize money at age 22, dug the Swede into a big hole with serves he could barely touch in the first two sets and almost buried him with sizzling returns and groundstrokes. Edberg didn’t seem stiff or slowed by the lower back spasms that nearly caused him to withdraw a week ago. Rather, after recovering and improving with each match through the semis, Edberg simply couldn’t handle the edberg_courier_rg93heat and Courier’s blazing shots. Surface temperatures on the rubberized hard courts rose to a blistering 153 degrees during the match, while air temperatures outside the stadium were a stifling 104 degrees – harsh conditions for Edberg but perfect for Florida-native Courier. Starting out wearing a baseball cap as he hardly ever has, Edberg fell behind 4:1 after Courier broke him in the fourth game. A key to this match-up, as always between them, would be whether Edberg’s serves to Courier’s backhand would work, allowing Edberg to set up at the net. Courier’s backhand returns were simply brutal, rocking Edberg back, forcing him to stare at passes, and sometimes nearly tearing the racket out of his hand. At 5:2, Edberg got rid of his cap and Courier quickly grabbed three set points at 0/40 on those strong returns and a netted volley by Edberg. Edberg fought back, pushing Courier through four deuces before, dropping the set on another backhand crosscourt return by Courier whizzed past the charging Edberg untouched. When Courier served in that first set and most of the second, he was equally punishing, giving up a courier_champion_ao93mere two points in his first seven service games. The first sign that Courier’s dominance would subside somewhat came when he served for second set at 5:1. Edberg cracked through to a 0/40 advantage, but couldn’t get the break as Courier reeled off five straight points. Edberg, despite his quiet demeanor, showed again that he is one of the most relentless players in the sport as he raised the level of his game in the third set. Still serving to Courier’s backhand, still attacking at the net, and taking advantage now of Courier’s errors, Edberg took control and swept through the set as if he were completely fresh. They battled to 3:3 in the fourth set before Courier once again asserted himself on returns, drilling several past Edberg to break him to 4:3. But once again, Edberg refused to quit, breaking back to 4:4 when Courier netted a forehand at 30/40. After they each held to 5:5 (Courier held easily at ‘love’), Courier stepped up the pressure again to grab two break points at 15/40. Edberg, his strength nearly sapped, then double-faulted wide and into the net to give Courier the chance to serve for the match. Courier grabbed two match points at 40/15, but Edberg saved them both, the second on a perfect drop volley. Courier went to match point again on a backhand return wide by Edberg, then won it after more than 2 1/2 hours when Edberg put a forehand return in the net. Stats of the final.

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