1988 – 1989, US Open
U.S. Open, New York, U.S.A.
August 29, 1988; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $1,683,333; Surface – Hard
“Now they are starting at 15 and burnt out at 24” said Jimmy Connors about the upcoming generation of American players. It was a tournament marked by a tennis torch that passed from one generation to another: 16-year-old Michael Chang and two years older Andre Agassi made their biggest results at the time, fourth round and semifinal respectively. The statement about burning out paradoxically was not correct to them, but in relation to Mats Wilander, the US Open ’88 champion. The Swede captured his first major title at the age of 17 (Roland Garros 1982) and seemed to be a certain successor of Bjorn Borg. Wilander couldn’t reach the No. 1 in the world over the years despite winning another majors. His dreams of becoming the best in the world came to fruition in New York, in 1988, as he defeated Ivan Lendl avenging six straight defeats, in the longest US Open final. Wilander, only 24 at the time, was so fulfilled that lost his motivation, and never came back to a Grand Slam final.
First round: Diane Pucin
As John McEnroe first entertained reporters with quips about upstart Andre Agassi, then enlightened them about his future in the game and the future of the sport that has made him famous and infamous, the thought occurred that McEnroe, the enfant terrible of sports, has, well, matured. McEnroe began his 12th U.S. Open Championships yesterday with an uneventful 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over talented 21-year-old Leonardo Lavalle of Mexico. The same man who has dumped sawdust on a spectator, who came close to a fistfight with Ilie Nastase and who told a television technician, on the air, where exactly he could put a microphone didn’t once abuse a referee, a photographer, his racket, the balls or his opponent yesterday. Then he spoke humorously about Agassi, eloquently about his future and intelligently about a rising controversy on how the pro game should be administered. Will all this responsible behavior last for more than a day? Maybe, maybe not. After all, McEnroe was pictured in a New York tabloid dancing the night away (at least until 2 a.m.) with his wife, Tatum O’Neal, the day before he played his opening-round match. But McEnroe finally seems at ease with himself. After two extended sabbaticals from tennis in the last three years to recover from injuries and to start a family, the 29-year-old father of two professes both a willingness to get back to the top and to accept that rustiness and advancing years will result in some losses. “I still feel like I have some good tennis left in me,” he said after the win. “But it’s going to take some time. A year and some months from now, if I’m still playing tennis like this, you won’t see me much longer. But I don’t want to even think about that.” McEnroe is still inconsistent. “I’ll beat players 6-4, 6-4 and it’s a match I should have won 6-2, 6-1,” he said. “That could cost me at a long tournament like this, when you should save yourself.” There are also flashes of brilliance – a sharply angled volley that kisses the sideline, a lunging backhand winner. But just as quickly, McEnroe can throw in three straight double faults as he did in yesterday’s first set. There were no missteps, though, when it came to answering questions. McEnroe was adamant in supporting the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) in its proposal to take over the running of the men’s tour. Currently, the Men’s International Professional Tennis Council, which governs the game, has representatives from the ATP, the various tournaments and the International Tennis Federation, which administers the Grand Slam events. Hamilton Jordan, executive director of the ATP, with the support of the players, wants the ATP to reorganize the sport, reschedule tournaments and, generally, make the rules. “Tennis would be a better game,” said McEnroe, “if players were allowed more of a foothold. The sport is not being showcased as best it could be.” On a lighter note, McEnroe had a word of caution for Agassi, the American who is the No. 4 seed here and who has charmed crowds with banter during his matches. “He’s going to have a tough time,” said McEnroe. “The other players are going to get tired of his act while they’re getting their butts kicked. They haven’t figured out what to get mad at Andre about yet, but… it’s harder to be an entertainer in the long run than to be a jerk.”
In other action yesterday, No. 2 seed Mats Wilander of Sweden beat Greg Holmes, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, in the conclusion of a rain-delayed Monday match. Another Swede, Stefan Edberg, the No. 3 seed, breezed past Libor Pimek of Czechoslovakia, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4, and West Germany’s Boris Becker, the No. 5 seed, knocked off Todd Nelson, 6-3, 6-0, 7-6(5). Michael Chang, who last year became the youngest male, at 15 years six months, to win an Open match, defeated Luiz Mattar 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. His record still stands because Tommy Ho, who turned 15 in June, lost his opening-round match to Johan Kriek 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(5). Ivan Lendl, the three-time defending champion, closed the night with an 11th-hour, five-set victory over Amos Mansdorf on the same court. Lendl crushed Mansdorf 6-0 in the final set, after a 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-1, 5-7 deadlock that kept the fans in suspense for nearly four hours. ‘‘The first match at the Open, especially at night, against someone who can play, is always difficult,” Lendl said. ”But I wasn’t worried. I knew the longer it goes, the better my chances were. I practice with Amos and I know how long he can go. He’s a good player, but he needs to get fitter.” Mansdorf nearly achieved the biggest, early-round Open upset since Andrew Pattison stunned defending champion Ilie Nastase in the second round in 1973. ”It’s not enough to play well and have a good score,” said Mansdorf, who is ranked No. 24 in the world. ”The game is about winning and losing. I might as well have lost in three sets and saved everybody some time.” An unknown American teenager, 17-year-old Pete Sampras  made his Grand Slam debut losing in a tight five-setter to  Jaime Yzaga 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 4-6, 5-7, 2-6. Six years later, Sampras will lose to Yzaga again in N.Y. in a 5-set match, but this time as the best player in the world. His first Grand Slam match played also one year older than Sampras, Jim Courier , a victor over Horst Skoff 7-5, 6-4, 6-3.
Second round: Bill Halls
Mark Woodforde, a red-headed Australian with a steady southpaw game, came from behind Thursday night to defeat four-time U.S. Open champion John McEnroe in a second round match Thursday night. Woodforde, 22, who reached the Open quarterfinals a year ago when he upset Tim Mayotte, lost two of the first three sets but rallied to upend McEnroe 7-5, 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-1. It was McEnroe’s first loss of a five-set match in the U.S. Open. He had a 9-0 record in five-setters going into the match. Woodforde, who defeated McEnroe in the Canadian Open two weeks ago (6-2 2-6 6-2), broke McEnroe in the first game of the fourth set and served out the set. He broke the fiesty New Yorker again in the first game of the fifth set and sealed the victory with another service break in the fifth game. McEnroe, whose play has been erratic since he took six months off the tour two years ago and has played only sporadically this year (6 tournaments in 1988 before the US Open), continued his inconsistent play. His play lacked the old fire and he played numerous loose shots. Sweden’s Mats Wilander, the No. 2 men’s seed and Australian Open and French Open champion, needed three hours and 26 minutes to win his second round match with Kevin Curren, a South African native who now is an American citizen. “Against guys that are lower ranked or aren’t as good as yourself, it comes down to who plays more steady,” said Wilander, who won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. “I think it takes a lot of percentage play and I think I return serve and hit a lot of volleys well and, once in awhile, go for the huge shot.” Curren said it is difficult to beat Wilander because of the Swede’s intense concentration, physical strength and stamina. “He just outlasts people,” said Curren, who approached the net more than 200 times in an aggressive serve and volley effort. Darren Cahill  behaves like the old-line Aussies. He’s not one to rub an opponent’s nose in it, even if he feels like it, which he did Thursday. Cahill quietly shook Boris Becker‘s  right hand Thursday afternoon after upsetting the fifth-seeded West German in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the U.S. Open. It was Cahill’s biggest career victory and earned a measure of revenge against the two-time Wimbledon champ, who was hobbled by painful sore feet. But you wouldn’t know it. Cahill showed more emotion when he won his first pro tournament at the New Haven Pilot Pen last year and immediately called home to tell the folks. Becker was hurting and he showed it. He had a blister on the ball of his left foot and his vaunted serve was broken six times. Becker also had problems with nerves in the heel of his right foot. “Once you cannot step on your feet, you should not be out here,” Becker said. “In the first set I almost said, `That’s it.’ Then I remembered (Jimmy) Connors’ comeback at Wimbledon. I was hoping.” (I assume Becker thought about Connors’ comeback at Wimbledon ’87 against Mikael Pernfors) To be perfectly frank, Becker was awful. “Cahill has merit, but I’ve never seen Becker playing worse than today,” said Ion Tiriac, the former Romanian touring pro who is now his manager. “It would have been Jones. It could have been Smith. It could have been anyone.” Cahill didn’t feel the victory was tarnished by Boris’ sore feet. “I’m very happy I beat him in straight sets,” said Cahill, who comes from Adelaide, South Australia. “I beat him very easily. With the injury he had, he gave the impression he was 50-50, trying half the time. To me he was always dangerous.” Jimmy Connors turned 36 Friday and, as usual, celebrated with a victory in the U.S. Open tennis championships, dispatching 21-year-old Gilad Bloom of Israel 6-0, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to move into the third round. “I don’t have time to look back as long as I’m still in the tournament,” he said after winning his 86th career match in the tournament, an ongoing record. “I’ve played here the last 19 years on my birthday. That’s good. As long as it’s my birthday and I’m still playing, it means that I’m still in the tournament. I don’t look back. I’ll have time to do that when I’m not playing anymore. Right now it’s still fun to go out there playing.” While most of the top seeded players advanced, there were some notable upsets. Jason Stoltenberg, an 18-year-old amateur from Australia, advanced when No. 7 seed Yannick Noah of France withdrew in the third set. Stoltenberg led 6-2, 6-7 (9), 5-1 at the time. Noah, suffering from chronic tendinitis in both knees, a condition that has severely limited his play this year, said he could no longer run. 18-year-old Andre Agassi, who showed why he is a rising star by beating Rick Leach 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. And another rising U.S. star, 16-year-old Michael Chang, gave Americans even more hope for the future by upsetting 13th seed Jonas Svensson 5-7, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a second-round battle which lasted 3 hours and 27 minutes.
Third round: Gary Pomerantz
The Grandstand Court at the U.S. Open on Saturday continued its history of swallowing up seeded players. Players always have hated being there because of the proximity of the crowd, the shadows and… because it swallows up seeded players. It claimed a couple more Saturday, as 10th seed Henri Leconte was knocked out by John Frawley, yet another unseeded Australian, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Emilio Sanchez, who’s made his living during his career on clay, ate up the eighth seed, Miloslav Mecir, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1. Aaron Krickstein bounced No. 14 Andres Gomez 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. ”This is probably the happiest moment in my life,” said Frawley, who has rocketed from No. 249 in the world in 1986 to 45. ”Leconte is a great player, and to beat him at the U.S. Open. Everyone is playing their best in a (Grand Slam event), and beating him here is bigger than beating him on a regular circuit series.” Second-seeded Mats Wilander had little trouble with Mikael Pernfors, 6-4, 6-0, 7-5. The Swedes will meet in the US Open again (second round) five years later to create a record of the latest finished match in New York. To get to the semifinals, Wilander just has to beat Mark Woodforde and either Sanchez or Frawley. It looks more and more like an all-Swedish semifinal, with Wilander playing third seed Stefan Edberg down the line. Edberg was to play Johan Carlsson on Saturday night. ”We all see that Ivan (Lendl) is not playing as well,’‘ Wilander said. ”That makes you more confident. We all know that when he was playing well, he was very hard to beat on this surface (hard court). At this stage he’s not playing as well. Maybe by the end of the tournament.” It was a good day for umbrellas but not lobs and volleys at the U.S. Open tennis championships Sunday as rain washed out third- and fourth-round matches. Few spectators ventured to the U.S. National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadow. And all of Sunday’s ticket holders will have to wait a year for a rain check. U.S. Tennis Association officials said tickets for Sunday could be exchanged for any of the first nine days next year. Torrential rains, not seeded players, fell all afternoon Sunday, postponing the 32 scheduled third-round matches at the U.S. Open. During a fully packed schedule Monday, when top seeds Ivan Lendl and Steffi Graf meet largely unheralded opponents, young Aaron Krickstein will have an opportunity to prove his game has come full cycle, back to certifiable stardom. Krickstein, who upset No. 14 seed Andres Gomez of Ecuador in four sets Saturday, will play No. 3 Stefan Edberg on Monday evening on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court. Edberg and a fellow Swede, No. 2 Mats Wilander, are considered the players most likely to dethrone Lendl, the three-time defending champion. Krickstein is from Michigan, and the crowd on the grandstand court was on his side throughout his victory Saturday. “I knew that was going to happen,” Gomez said after his loss. “He’s like the only American left in the bottom half of the draw. I expected them to be rooting for him. Aaron plays well at the Open. I think he might have a good chance against Edberg.” Krickstein has emerged from the shadows. It was back at the 1983 U.S. Open when Krickstein, then 16, first exploded onto the tennis scene, defeating both Edberg and Vitas Gerulaitis. Krickstein is a vaunted baseliner who rose to No. 7 in the world in mid-1985, then suffered a series of injuries. He had fallen to No. 61 at the end of last year. He split from coach Nick Bollettieri during his troubled times. “I haven’t come all the way back,” said Krickstein, 21. “If I can improve some areas of my game that are still weak and stay healthy, I may get back up there. I can definitely be a top 20 player, but if I don’t improve in those areas, it will be tough to break into the top 10.”… He is the No. 1 player in the world and has been in the final of six consecutive Opens. He has won the last three, looking invincible at times. Ivan Lendl is so comfortable here that he gives the impression that playing in the Open is just running an errand, like going to the store for milk and bread. Lendl was on and off the stadium court before many of the fans had come through the gates Monday, defeating Scott Davis, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. That led to the inevitable question about his plans for the afternoon, which usually include a round of golf. “I will go home and have lunch first,” Lendl said. “I`m not very good at golf on an empty stomach.” Michael Chang of Placentia, 16, became the youngest male to reach the round of 16 since Krickstein in 1983 when he knocked off Tim Wilkison, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. In the first two sets of Chang’s match, Wilkison befuddled him with a powerful serve-and-volley game. Chang’s passing shots were ineffective and Wilkison seemed on his way to an easy victory. But as the match wore on, Chang started serving better. And as he began to win some easy points on serve, his passing shots and lobs also became more accurate, pinning Wilkison to the baseline. “In the juniors, my passing shots were what I relied on,” Chang said. ‘‘I wanted people to come to the net. When that was failing me, I almost cracked. I almost felt like giving up. I had lost hope. I don’t know what turned things around for me, but this makes me feel good.” Chang, who needed five sets to knock off No. 13 seed Jonas Svensson on Saturday, sat calmly through a 34-minute rain delay Monday, holding a 4:3, fifth-set lead. “I just thought about keeping my head in the match and not getting distracted,” Chang said. “I just couldn’t let that bother me.” Inside the stadium, top-seeded Ivan Lendl played to a sparse crowd. In the grandstand, Jimmy Connors drew standing room only. In a strange bit of scheduling on Monday, Connors, perhaps the biggest draw at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, faced Pieter Aldrich of South Africa in the 6,000-seat grandstand. Connors, a five-time Open champion and, at 36, the oldest player in the tournament, didn’t care. But the thousands of fans who were shut out of seeing the No. 6 seed because they couldn’t squeeze into the smaller arena, were upset. When several doors leading to the court were closed and security guards refused any more entry to the grandstand, dozens of fans complained. Some even shouted obscenities at the guards, with one fan complaining, ”I paid $100 to see Connors and Graf and now you tell me I can’t. This is bull.’‘ Connors has played in the grandstand before, usually in the first or second round. ”I’m ready… anyplace,” Connors said after his 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory. ”It’s actually much different from the other court. It’s a little smaller, which I don’t mind; it’s a little more difficult to see, a little bit softer court. Shadows come across the court, it’s a little different on the stadium side, you’re not looking into a high fence, you’re looking into people. But the court is fine. I like the closeness of the people a lot. It’s just a different feel.”
Fourth round: Bill Halls
Aaron Krickstein, who gained fame here as a teen-ager in 1983, upset third-seeded Stefan Edberg on Monday night to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. Krickstein downed the Wimbledon champion, 5-7, 7-6(4), 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-5, in a 3-hour, 52-minute match at the National Tennis Center. Krickstein’s victory brought back memories of his performance here as a 16-year-old, when he beat Edberg in a five-set match and made it to the fourth round before losing to Yannick Noah. “If I get into a fifth set, I feel I can win it,” said the Grosse Pointe resident, who is ranked 20th in the world. “I’m unbeaten (6-0) at the Open in five-setters. It was a tight match, back and forth, and I love when it gets down to that.” The turning point was the second-set tiebreaker, which Krickstein won to even the match. After falling behind 3:0, Edberg won three straight points. But Krickstein hit three winners to go ahead, 6:3, and, after Edberg won the next point, the 22-year-old Swede hit a long return to end the set. After losing another tiebreaker in the third set, Edberg broke Krickstein in the final game of the 4th set to even the match. Each player broke twice in the final set as they battled to 5-all (Krickstein led 3:1*, later on Edberg squandered three mini-match points at 4:3). Krickstein broke for a 5:4 lead, and again to go up 6:5, then closed out the victory with a love service game that ended with a winning backhand volley. “The conditions were bad and I never adjusted,” Edberg said. “I could not do the things I do best – serve and volley.” Edberg had reached the Open semifinals the past two years, while Krickstein’s previous best showings were fourth-round finishes in 1983 and 1986. Jimmy Connors, who has been in the game of tennis longer than yellow balls and oversized racquets, will play in what might turn out to be a changing of the guard match in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Championships sometime on Thursday. Connors, who crisply dispatched Mexico’s Jorge Lozano 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals, will play the survivor of a match between two teenagers considered to be the future hope of U.S. tennis. No. 4 seed Andre Agassi of Las Vegas, the hottest player on the tour with 22 straight victories, was scheduled to play Michael Chang of Placentia, Calif., Tuesday night. Meanwhile, No. 1 seed Ivan Lendl and Derrick Rostagno, a relative unknown from Brentwood, Calif., also advanced the the men’s quarterfinals Tuesday. Lendl defeated Jakob Hlasek of Switzerland 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 and Rostagno eliminated Ronald Agenor of Haiti 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. The 18-year-old Agassi was born the year (1970) Connors played in his first Open. Chang is only 16. Agassi has admired Connors ever since he had a chance to hit with him as a 4-year-old. “There is a lot of talk about them both,” said Connors. “Whoever gets through is fine with me. I just want to play well.” Connors, who turned professional at age 19, is firmly opposed to youngsters who become professionals at 15, as Chang did. “I didn’t think I’d be playing at 36, but I came out (turned pro) later,” said Connors, a five-time Open champion and still ranked No. 6 in the world. “Now they are starting at 15 and burnt out at 24”. Andre Agassi methodically destroyed old junior tennis rival Michael Chang 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 Tuesday night to move into a U.S. Open quarterfinal showdown with veteran Connors in a match that could see the American tennis torch passed from one generation to another. The 18-year-old Agassi won his 22nd straight match in an hour and 49 minutes before 14,676 fans at the National Tennis Center. “It will be fun,” said Agassi, who says he always admired Connors aggressive style. “I want to play him before before he retires. Whoever dictates the most points will win. I don’t have anything to prove. If he’s going to beat me, he’s going to have to work hard.” Asked if the match might symbolize the past and future of American tennis, Agassi said it was hard to say. “I watched Jimmy Connors win all those Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles. I guess it’s sort of the new versus the used. But I know he’s still capable of a lot when he’s on the court.”
Quarterfinals: Charles Carder
Mats Wilander might paraphrase the verse in an old song about “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” with a new version about “Where Have All The Seeds Gone?” The Swede, who won Grand Slam championships in Australia and France, has now reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open without facing a seeded player. He scored a 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-0, 6-4 win over Emilio Sanchez of Spain on Wednesday and meets Darren Cahill of Australia in the semis. Cahill beat Aaron Krickstein in 3 hours 11 minutes 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-3 in the other quarterfinal played Wednesday night. Wilander and Cahill have never played before. Wilander, in addition to the Australian and French titles, has won championships at the Lipton International at Key Biscayne, Fla., and Cincinnati while mounting a 26-1 record on hard courts. His only loss was to Jay Berger in the second round at Orlando, Fla. Actually seeds have been falling away from in front of Wilander throughout the year. “I think it has gone my way, pretty much, the whole year,” he pointed out Wednesday. “It’s good for me that the seeds, (Miloslav) Mecir and (Stefan) Edberg, are out. From the beginning at the Australian and the French, the seeds fell out and I was winning some tight matches. Sanchez in Paris he had the same chances today. It’s just been going my way, the big points have been coming my way. I guess I should be happy with that.” Wilander, the No. 2 men’s seed, turned his match around by winning a second-set tiebreaker. Sanchez had a set point at 6:5, but he made three straight groundstroke errors that allowed Wilander to even the match. [Also in Paris against Sanchez, Wilander escaped from a two-sets-to-love deficit, winning in the end 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4.] ”Winning that tiebreaker was the whole match,” said Wilander , who lost to Ivan Lendl in last year’s final. ”I still think I could have won if I lost the second set, but it never crossed my mind.” Defending champion Ivan Lendl easily advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Open today, dispatching unseeded Derrick Rostagno 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 in 99 minutes. The score was tied 2:2 in the first set when Lendl broke the American’s serve and completed the match by winning 16 of the last 18 games. Rostagno, from Brentwood, Calif., was playing the Czechoslovakian for the first time and could never find an effective strategy against the top seed’s powerful groundstrokes. “The ball comes quicker, for sure, than I expected on passing shots,’‘ said Rostagno, who made 32 unforced errors, compared to Lendl’s 10. “I was, perhaps, too psyched up. I was spraying the ball all over.” Lendl only ventured to the net twice in the match, while Rostagno came in 74 times. Andre Agassi, the latest teen-age wundkerkind of American tennis, proved something Thursday night that all the youngsters must prove sooner or later if they plan to make it: He beat veteran Jimmy Connors. Agassi, the No. 4 seed from Las Vegas, Nev., broke Connors in the third game of the first set and went on to post a 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-1 victory to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. “Tonight I showed myself a lot,” said the elated Agassi. “To beat someone with so much experience in this stadium pushed me to another level. I predicted to a friend of mine it would be 6-3, 6-3 6-3 because I was really psyched up for it. But he surprised me. He kept fighting. He’s one of the greatest players ever, still is.” In a sense, it was the passing of the torch from one talented generation of players to the new generation. However, Connors didn’t see it that way and said he certainly wasn’t intimidated. Connors said Agassi’ brash 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 prediction was a big mistake. “He shouldn’t have said that,” said Connors. “That was a big mistake. The beautiful thing about this game is you play again tomorrow. I’ll follow a guy to the ends of the earth to play him again. Not him (Agassi), though.” Agassi and Connors will meet at the same stage of the US Open in the following year, with the youngster as a winner again after much more demanding match.
Semifinals: Len Ziehm
Ivan Lendl wouldn’t mind having Andre Agassi‘s fans today in the men’s final of the U.S. Open. But that’s all. Lendl brushed aside the United States’ new No. 1 player in Saturday’s semifinals and came away without much respect for the 18-year-old’s talent or behavior. Agassi grunted too loudly and attempted impossible shots, Lendl said. “I didn’t know what was going on,” Lendl said. “It almost looked like he was giving sets away. But I didn’t come to beat Agassi. I came to win the tournament.” Sweden’s Mats Wilander, the tourney’s No. 2 seed and winner of two of this year’s previous Grand Slam events – the Australian and French opens – will try to keep Lendl from winning the U.S. title for the fourth straight time. Only Bill Tilden has won four in a row. Lendl, born and raised in Czechoslovakia but living in Greenwich, Conn., also needs a victory to preserve another streak. This is the first year since 1983 he has failed to win a Grand Slam title, and today is his last chance. Wilander dispatched Darren Cahill, an unseeded Australian, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, to earn a repeat shot at Lendl for the U.S. crown. Their match will likely also decide who is the world’s No. 1 player. The computer rankings have given Lendl that acclaim since Sept. 9, 1985, and he needs to hang on until Oct. 3 to beat Jimmy Connors’ longevity record at the top of the sport… Agassi didn’t present much competition for Lendl, who won 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours, 32 minutes. But he did present an irritation. Three games into the match, Lendl protested the volume of Agassi’s grunts. Umpire Richard Ings called Agassi over, but Agassi “didn’t know” what was said. “I wasn’t going to yell and scream,” Agassi said. “I thought it was ridiculous for him to approach me with something like that.” Lendl said. “When he goes for a big shot, his grunt gets louder. If you don’t have a play, I have no problem with it. But if you have a play, I do. I don’t think he does it on purpose, but I also don’t think he realizes how distracting it is. People don’t realize how much tennis players rely on the sound of the ball.” Connors, who lost to Agassi in three sets in the quarterfinals, is the game’s champion grunter. “Connors is different,” Lendl said. “He always grunts at the same pace.” The sound of the crowd also could have been a factor. It was very much on his side. “I would have been crazy to expect anything else,” Lendl said. “I would have felt more pressure if they were supporting me.” That may happen today, with a resident non-American providing the opposition. Wilander and Lendl are neighbors in Connecticut. “It depends on how much they don’t like me for beating Andre,” Lendl said. Agassi won six tournaments this year and became the youngest American to rank in the world’s top five. His climb has materialized despite only two victories over players ranked in the top 10 in the last two years. “I don’t know what to think about his game,” Lendl said. “If he was sick or something, that’s one thing. If he’s not, the way he played the second and third sets was disappointing.” Said Agassi: “I was psyched. I just lost an early break, and that hurts when you play the guy. He just gets on that confidence roll. Once he gets up on you, he’s hard to stop.” Agassi hedged on picking a winner for today’s match. “Mats is definitely playing better,” he said. “As tough as Mats is mentally, Ivan is definitely going to have to perform.” Agassi lost his first match after 23-match winning streak (27 including an exhibition tournament in Jericho, held a week before the Open). The 4th set went on serve until the 10th game, Agassi led 40/0 but lost five consecutive points.
Final: Bill Halls
Mats Wilander, switching from his traditional baseline game to a chip and charge style, dethroned three-time U.S. Open Tennis Champion Ivan Lendl Sunday in a five-set marathon that lasted a tournament record 4:55 minutes. Wilander won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, for his first U.S. open title. The length of the match surpassed the 1987 final between the same two players. It lasted 4:47 minutes and was won by Lendl in four sets. “It’s the biggest victory I ever had,” said Wilander. “Bigger than my first Paris (French Open) title. It meant so much. A Swede has never won this tournament. I’m going to be No.1 now. It’s definitely the biggest match I have ever played.” The U.S. Open triumph gave the 24-year-old Wilander three of the four Grand Slam Championships this year and the Swedes a mini-slam of their own. Wilander won the Australia and French opens and countryman Stefan Edberg won Wimbledon. The last time a male player won three of the four tournaments was 1974, when American Jimmy Connors won all but the French Open. He was barred from playing in France because he had played World Team Tennis that year. Lendl, who will now miss Connors’ record of being ranked the world’s No. 1 player for 159 straight weeks was obviously disappointed but not disheartened. When the new rankings come out Monday Wilander should be No. 1. “My passing shot let me down,” said Lendl, who netted a backhand service return on match point. “I had so many chances in the first two sets but the bottom line is I didn’t make the big points. It’s been a tough year for me. But I’m not going home and cry over split milk or I’ll never achieve anything. I’ll take a fresh approach and get ready for the Australian Open.” Lendl won only two tournaments this year. He was bothered by injuries all season but said he felt healthy going into the open two weeks ago. “Mats had not won anything for two years and everyone said I was the dominant player,” said Lendl. “He comes back this year and win three slams. “He was more aggressive at certain times,” said Lendl of Wilander ‘s game plan. “But it’s easy for him to come in (to net) when he saw I wasn’t making my passing shots.” Trailing two to one, Lendl won the fourth set 7-5 when he broke Wilander with a forehand volley in the 12th game. In the final set, Lendl survived the first match point with a blistering backhand winner down the line and had two break points on Wilander before the Swede steadied himself to win the title. Lendl hit a backhand wide and then netted a backhand service return on match point. Wilander was coming to the net behind the serve. Wilander approached the net an uncharacteristic 131 times in the match and won 76 points (58 %). “Nobody beats me seven times in a row,” said Wilander, who had lost six straight to Lendl. “I just wanted to chip his first serve back and that worked pretty well. Then I would follow my own second serve to the net. I wasn’t always really sure when to come in but I wanted to mix it up a little bit. Last year I just stayed at the baseline and he would beat me with winners. I decided I’d rather take a chance getting passed than standing on the baseline. After I blew that second set (He led 4:1), I felt kind of hopeless. At the end I just tried to get myself together for one more set.” Lendl committed 83 unforced errors in the match and made good on only 43 percent of his first serves. “When he gets his fist serve in he usually wins the point,” said Wilander, who has won three French and three Australian opens to give him seven grand slam titles (31 in total at the time). Wilander, who made 86 percent of his first serves, broke Lendl in 10th game of the first set to win 6-4. Lendl netted a backhand for the second set point opportunity for Wilander and then hit a backhand long. After blowing a 4:1 lead in the second set, Wilander seemed to become unnerved when chair umpire Jay Snyder issued a warning to the Swede for not serving within the 30-second time limit. Lendl had already broken Wilander in the fifth game to get back on serve. The time violation occurred in the seventh game when Lendl broke Wilander again and went on to win the set 6-4. Wilander broke Lendl twice in the third set to win easily and take a two sets to one lead. That set the stage for Lendl’s belated comeback and the dramatic conclusion of the match. Stats of the final
# In the picture above the US Open ’88 finalists, Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl, 24 years later at the US Open ’12, along with Boris Becker (in the middle).
U.S. Open, New York
August 28, 1989; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $2,000,000; Surface – Hard
Ivan Lendl dominated the men’s tennis in the mid-80s, but the US Open ’89 seemed like changing of the guard at the top. Boris Becker captured his second consecutive major title (in the second round a net-cord helped him to survive a match point down against Derrick Rostagno!), he was seven years younger than Lendl, had beaten him in four consecutive meetings, and fans could expect he would be the next king of tennis. It didn’t happen though, the next two years belonged to Stefan Edberg, who suffered one of the biggest beat-downs of his career losing in New York ’89 to 37-year-old Jimmy Connors. Four teenage Americans: 19-year-olds Andre Agassi  & Jim Courier , 18-year-old Pete Sampras  and 17-year-old Michael Chang , all signalized that the upcoming decade would be ruled by them.
First round: Jim Sarni
The heart was willing, but the stomach wasn’t. Brad Gilbert‘s 17-match winning streak came to an end Monday at the U.S. Open. The hottest player on the tour was stopped by Todd Witsken and some creatures that go bump in the belly. ”I felt pretty good, and then I woke up this morning and I felt kind of sick,” said Gilbert, the eighth seed, a 4-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 loser in the first round. ”It’s not something that everybody wants to wake up with and unfortunately, it depleted a lot of my energy. I got tired from the second set on.” Gilbert took several bathroom breaks during the four-hour match, while trying to fuel up with food. ”I was trying to eat, but I wasn’t keeping much down,” said Gilbert, who had won 23 of his last 24 matches since Wimbledon and his last three tournaments. ”I tried to eat some bananas. I tried some chocolate and brownies, which were good for a buzz for a few games. Then I got too much of a sugar rush. But I still had my chances. I was up a set and 4-2 and I had a chance to go up a double break. If I had been able to tough that out, I would have been up two sets and I could have played around a little more in the third set. Todd played well and made some good shots.” Witsken, No. 63 in the world, had his biggest win here in 1986, when he upset Jimmy Connors in the third round. Now, the Indianapolis native has another claim to fame. ”I don’t know if he was tired or a little bit hurt, but I just had so much momentum going,” Witsken said. ”I think that everyone could feel that. It’s tough to play against that.” Witsken, 25, who meets Yannick Noah in the second round, hopes that he will keep his feet on the ground this time. ”It was tough for me at a young age to deal with being able to beat somebody like Connors,” Witsken said. ”But now, I’ve played the tour long enough that I know my limitations and what I can do.” Yannick Noah, who is being coached by Dennis Ralston, eliminated Joey Rive 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Noah beat Rive at Lipton in March… Five players – Wally Masur, Miguel Nido, Andrei Olhovskiy, Alberto Mancini and Mikael Pernfors – all came back from 0-2 set deficits to win their first-round matches. It is the first time since 1979 five players have come back from a 0-2 deficit to win in the first round. Two players with the best chances to knock off Lendl easily won their first-round matches. But neither John McEnroe nor Mats Wilander sound all that driven to win the tournament. “I feel like I’ve come a long way,” said McEnroe, who defeated France’s Eric Winogradsky, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. “But if I don’t win here, I’ll just try again at the [Grand Prix] Masters. And if not there, I’ll try again at the Australian.” Said Wilander, the defending champion who beat Austria’s Horst Skoff, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1: “If I won, then ’89 wouldn’t be such a bad year after all. But then again, if I could get to the finals and play a good match, that still could make ’89 not so bad.” Boris Becker won his opening match against David Pate after an identical scoreline. Wilander admits that he relaxed too much after beating Lendl in last year’s Open final. “The first few months after that, I really didn’t feel like playing,” Wilander said. “I just wanted to enjoy the fact that I became No. 1. Then I lost a few matches, maybe one too many, and my confidence was down. “I just want to reach the same level of play as I did last year, because that was as close to as good as I can get. Right now, I’m not playing as well, and mentally I’m not as strong.” Next up for Wilander is Pete Sampras, one of the talented young Americans in the field. Sampras defeated Mexico’s Agustin Moreno, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, yesterday. “I feel, all things considered, that I’m a lot better off this year than a year ago,” fourth-seeded McEnroe said. “I certainly think this is the best I’ve felt in the last couple years. And I think I can win. But it’s a very difficult thing to do.” Jimmy Connors flashed his familiar sly smile and mischievous stare when asked that question after his 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 rout of Tom Nijssen of the Netherlands in the opening-round Tuesday. “I’ve never even thought about quitting,” said the 13th-seeded Connors, seemingly unconcerned that he’ll turn 37 Saturday, though no one else in the men’s draw is older than 31. “Doing it this way was her choice. Nobody put a gun to her head,” Connors said in reference to Evert’s announcement last week that this would be her final Open. “She’s had a great career, and this is how she wanted to do it. I don’t know how I would do it. But when I stop, you’ll know it. “ Since June, Connors has played one match, an exhibition in Japan. He said he spent time with his wife and two children and put on 16 pounds, most of which he has since lost. “I was able to discuss alternatives, and I got an opportunity to find something else I like to do,” said Connors, who did not elaborate. But he clearly relished the idea of dropping out of sight for more than two months. Connors, 88-14 with five titles and 15 trips to the quarterfinals in 19 years, also was cagey about whether he thought he could be a threat this year. “My tennis has been all right in practice,” said Connors. “I’ll just do the best I can.” In a late-night match that was supposed to complete the “day session,” 11th-seeded Jay Berger of Plantation beat Andrei Cherkasov of the Soviet Union, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. Berger, coming off Sunday’s three-set victory over Michael Chang in Delaware, was scheduled to play the fifth match on the Grandstand Court. But when matches ran long he was moved to the Stadium Court, where they started play at 9:20 before a couple hundred spectators and ended at 11:58 p.m. Top seed Ivan Lendl had no trouble advancing today at the U.S. Open. Lendl finished off Diego Perez 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 in a first-round match that began yesterday but was suspended by rain at 2:0 in the 3rd set. “I feel that if I play well, I can beat anyone,” said Lendl, a finalist here the last seven years and a three-time Open champion. “If I don’t play well, the very next match may be the last.” Last year, at 18, Andre Agassi had the time of his young life. This year, Agassi has not won a tournament, his ranking has slipped to No. 6 and he has been criticized for having a wise mouth and acting too flamboyant on the court. Still having fun, Andre? “If people want to read into (it as) a fluke last year, that’s their choice,” Agassi said yesterday after beating Robbie Weiss, the 1988 NCAA singles champion from Pepperdine, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-0, in a first-round match. ”Some of my problem this year has been finding the motivation to dig deep in matches.” At an Open tuneup in Princeton, N.J., last week, Agassi said: “My goal at the beginning of the year wasn’t to be No. 1, No. 2 or stay where I am (No. 3) because I felt so much happening last year. Things came a little quicker than I was able to handle. I needed time to regroup, just go through the motions for a while and hopefully keep my ranking.” In one of the longest deciding tie-breaks in the US Open history, Wally Masur defeated Jim Pugh 5-7, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(10). Masur will also win a dramatic fifth set in New York four years later.
Second round: Bill Berkrot, Mike Delnagro
While four-time U.S. Open champion John McEnroe was knocked out of this year’s tournament by obscure Dutch pro Paul Haarhuis Wednesday night, No. 2 seed Boris Becker needed an extraordinary piece of luck to survive another second round match. The 23-year-old Haarhuis, a Florida State graduate, defeated McEnroe 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 before a boistrous sellout crowd of more than 20,000 fans in the stadium court. “I just couldn’t get anything going,” said McEnroe, who only two days ago said he had a very solid chance of winning the tournament. “I don’t know what was wrong. It was an amazingly bad match (for me). It was just one of those days you hope you never have in your whole career.” Haarhuis, ranked No. 115 in the world, got into the Open by qualifying for one of the 16 vacant spots allotted to players who hold a playoff tournament before the tournament begins. “It’s exciting to beat a player of his stature,” said Haarhuis. “I’ve played on clay all year and when I came here, I wasn’t used to the fast surface and kept hitting every ball into the fences. But I qualified. And you have to believe you can win. If you can win one set, you can win two sets or three sets. I won three sets.” Haarhuis was so excited by the victory he couldn’t recall who his next opponent would be or when he was to play. For the Dutchman, the future doubles legend, it was barely fifth main-level tournament, the first one on hard-courts. Following the McEnroe loss, Pete Sampras, an 18-year-old Californian, sent Mats Wilander reeling, 5-7, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. It was the earliest a defending champion had been eliminated since Ilie Nastase was beaten in the second round in 1973. Sampras, the No. 91-ranked player in the world, closed his after-midnight victory over the struggling Wilander with a flourish – and a little luck. After double-faulting on match point (“I choked,” Sampras said later), Sampras couldn’t handle a service return at his feet. Wilander then hit a forehand wide down the line, behind Sampras. “I was fortunate: it was out by an inch,” Sampras said. The revived Sampras promptly served his third ace of the game and then served a winner for the biggest win of his career: “At the start, I didn’t believe I could beat Mats Wilander. (But) he gave me a couple openings and I took advantage of it. The second set was big. I knew then I could win it.” In the final set Wilander broke back lashing a backhanded passing shot to create a 4:4 tie. A young player is more vulnerable here, but Sampras broke immediately again, stroking two crisp cross-court backhanders to take a 5:4 lead. “I was thinking positive,” the youngster said. “We were on serve and I regrouped.” Wilander, who has been unable to regain the form that brought him his first Open title a year ago, was almost as puzzled as McEnroe about his performance. “It’s disappointing to be playing that badly,” he said. “It was like a 0-0 soccer match. Terrible.” Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, fighting his private curse at the U.S. Open, went to the edge against a free-spirited, go-for-broke Californian in the second round Wednesday and barely survived. Becker lost the first two sets to Derrick Rostagno (wasting a set point at 5:4* in the 2nd set) and saved two match points in the fourth-set tiebreaker before clawing back to win 1-6, 6-7(1), 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-3 in a 4-hour, 26-minute marathon filled with spectacular points. Becker said his poor showings at the U.S. Open stem, in part, from his emphasis on the two Grand Slam events that are more important to him: Wimbledon and the French Open. ”I build my season on them, and I peak there, and you almost have to keep your peak another two months,” he said. “It was good I had to struggle, come back and win it.” Against Rostagno, Becker was facing a man used to long hauls. Rostagno keeps two buses, one on each coast, for commuting between tournaments, and often sleeps in them on the way. Rostagno charged the net repeatedly and scorched the hard court in the stadium with his serves in the first set as Becker missed some easy shots and looked slow. ”I was enjoying myself out there,” Rostagno said. “I was rather sad it didn’t turn out my way, because I think it should have. I’ll have to watch it on replay, and maybe one time I’ll win it.” The crowd of 18,876, originally pulling for Becker, began cheering the American as they sensed a major upset in the making. ”I had my chances earlier (in the match), but the only thing I was doing well was I had a very good spirit on the court,” Becker said. “I wanted to try on every ball. And that’s what made me win.” Becker’s serve-and-volley game, virtually absent in the first two sets against Rostagno, began to assert itself in the third as he came back to avoid a sweep. Rostagno served for the match after breaking Becker to go ahead 6:5 in the fourth set. The break-point came on a cross-court backhand volley with Becker stretched on the court after he had lunged for a forehand. Rostagno won the first point of the next game, but Becker took the next four to set up the tie-breaker. Rostagno broke Becker on the ninth point of the tiebreaker to go up 5:4, then moved to within a point of clinching the match when the West German smacked a backhand return long. Rostagno hit a forehand volley long as Becker saved the first match point. Rostagno’s lost his second chance at victory when he misjudged a net-cord shot by Becker that appeared to be going wide. Rostagno was handcuffed by the shot and could only deflect it out. ”When you get a shot like that on match point, it’s quite sweet,” Becker said. “I was hoping he would go down the line, but he read my mind. And the only chance I had to win that point was (to) hit the tape. He was there to hit the volley.” Rostagno said that was the turning point of the match. ”He probably had the feeling at the net that nothing could go wrong,” Rostagno said. “I was thinking if he didn’t use up all his luck at that point, then nothing would. I thought I would have a few lucky breaks after that.” Becker won the next two points, the second one a beautiful backhand lob that caught Rostagno at the net, and took the tie-breaker. Rostagno reached for balls that might have gone out several times earlier in the match, and made them. That gambling, aggressive attack paid off for a while, but couldn’t sustain him. The fifth set seemed to be all Becker’s as he raced to a 5:1 lead, but Rostagno refused to quit winning two games in a row. Ivan Lendl and Stefan Edberg cruised into the third round of the U.S. Open tennis championships today to restore some semblance of order to the seedings. Lendl, the U.S.-based Czechoslovak seeded number one, demolished Australian  John Fitzgerald 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 on a day of perfect playing conditions at the National Tennis Center with blue skies, warm sunshine and almost no wind. On the cozy Grandstand court, men’s third seed Edberg served and volleyed his way to a convincing 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over 47th-ranked fellow-Swede Peter Lundgren. Jimmy Connors, the oldest player at the U.S. Open, showed he still has plenty of fight. Connors, who turns 37 on Saturday, avoided the upsets that had tripped two other former champions, disposing of hard-serving but erratic 23-year-old qualifier Bryan Shelton 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in a second-round match. Shelton, an All-America from Georgia Tech who lost to Boris Becker in the first round at Wimbledon in his first Grand Slam tournament, blasted 12 aces without being broken to win the first set. But Shelton’s serve failed him as he double-faulted at game-point at the start of the second set, and the steady, wily Connors took his measure with blazing returns, deft lobs and passing shots. Shelton managed only five aces in the last three sets and never threatened the 13th-seeded Connors in any of them. A year ago a group of young Australians dominated first-week play at the U.S. Open, but judging by Thursday’s results, the youth to be served in tennis in years to come may well be America’s. Sixth-seed Andre Agassi and seventh-seed Michael Chang breezed into the fourth round, as did less-know American teen Jim Courier. Agassi, 19, and Chang, 17, and Courier, 19, all rang up straight-set triumphs. On Grandstand Court, Agassi smashed Neil Broad of South Africa, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in 1 hour and 28 minutes. Almost simultaneously on Stadium Court, Chang crushed Thomas Hogstedt of Sweden, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3, in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Courier, of Dade City, Fla, ran off a quick 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Jared Palmer of Saddlebrook, Fla. Courier, who turned 19 on August 17th, is a former roommate of Agassi at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. For 4 1/2 years there the two fought for supremacy in Bollettieri’s eyes. Another little-known American youth, Pete Sampras of California, upset defending champion and fifth seeded Mats Wilander of Sweden. Sampras turned 18 on Aug. 12. Don’t forget Aaron Krickstein, who turned 22 this month. Chang, Agassi, Courier and Sampras grew up together in the world of elite tennis, all glancing at times over his shoulder. Of course Chang is the hot one, finishing 1988 as youngest player on earth ranked among the top 30. At the French Open on June 11, he surfaced as youngest man ever to win a Grand Slam title, but he respects his fellow American youths. “I think we are a really good group of young players because we grew up together and everybody pushed everybody to his limit,” Chang said. “Everybody wanted to the the best in the group and that pushing is paying off.” Chang wants not to stand out from the crowd at the Open. His mother, Betty, says Michael plays tennis to “spread the word,” and he often credits match vict/emories to “the Lord Jesus Christ.” He and Agassi read Bible passages together. He has calculatedly cooled religious references at the Open. He next meets South Africa’s Pieter Aldrich, as a very big favorite. He might then face Tim Mayotte in round four and Ivan Lendl in the quarterfinals. “I think I’ve grown as a person physically and mentally,” Chang said. “Hopefully I can always become a better person and by the time I die I’ll be a perfect person.” Agassi, meanwhile, has no Grand Prix tournament victories in 1989 and he reached only one final, the Italian Open, He, however, made a U.S. Open semifinal in 1988 at age 18 and now his game is considerably less volatile and noticeably more predictable and effective. Like Chang, Agassi often attributes his accomplishments (and shortcomings) to a higher authority. “I’ve been put here for a reason, I’m not going to be given anything I can’t handle,” Agassi said. “I’ve come farther than from where I’ve been in the past.” Like Chang, too, Agassi believes in the group of countrymen shaping up as America’s future in tennis. “We bring out the best in each other,” he said. “It’s kind of like what happened with Chrissie and Martina.” Agassi thinks stiff competition at an early age among he and his mates has lifted all of their games. Just as importantly, he said, the battles helped foster consistency. “You find that every time you go on the court you have to prove yourself,” he said. “You just don’t find the chance to have good days and bad days.” Whether America’s current young crop will dominate tennis as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors did in the 1970s and 1980s is anyone’s guess. “I hope so but it’s very hard to say if it will happen,” Chang said. “No one knows the future except...”
Third round: Observer News Services
Ivan Lendl‘s holiday weekend started off just the way he had planned on Stadium Court at the National Tennis Center, a spot he finds just as comfortable as his backyard court in Greenwich, Conn. First, he brunched on Jim Courier , demolishing the blond Floridian in straight, controlled sets Saturday, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, to advance to the round of 16 at the U.S. Open for the 10th consecutive year. Since Lendl, 29, accomplished his mission so efficiently, in a work day that lasted 1 hour 47 minutes, he left ample time to cruise from Queens toward Connecticut and the near-daily round of golf he uses like a battery charger. Lendl said the progress made by teenagers and upstarts came as no surprise to him, but he took the exits of the John McEnroe and Mats Wilander as a warning. “I don’t worry about the other upsets, but I was worried about someone upsetting me” he said. “If I look back when I was 17 and 18 and playing junior tennis, I was dreaming that one day I would break into the top 100. Today these kids are 16 and 17 and they’re winning the French Open.” But Courier, 19, became discomfited by the swirling winds within the stadium that, he later said, made him feel like he was trying to play tennis within a perpetually flushing toilet bowl. Lendl was asked, if in the light of the success of the young American players, he is beginning to feel old? He replied: “The game is progressing and is becoming younger. But I don’t feel old.” Lendl, comparing Agassi and Courier said, “Agassi has more pace on the ball, Courier has more variety.” The Open’s 20-year veteran, Jimmy Connors, celebrated a personal holiday, his 37th birthday, by defeating Andres Gomez 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0. The slight, spry Connors catapulted around court through the first set, letting Gomez, a familiar victim he has defeated in 10 of their 11 meetings, make all the mistakes. Connors faltered in the second set, where sloppy volleys gave Gomez incentive to attempt to contest their match, but he allowed Gomez to hold serve once in the third set and not at all in the fourth. Connors will next face Stefan Edberg, who defeated Milan Srejber 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1. To be accurate, Connors limped toward the round of 16, for he left the court after his 91st Open victory with a cramp in his right thigh. Connors later became nauseous and his lower body, from his toes to his lower abdomen, continued to cramp up as he suffered water deprivation syndrome, a condition characterized by a sudden loss of minerals and electrolytes, said Dr. Irving Glick, tournament physician. Four trainers and three doctors attended him for 2-and-1/2 hours after the match. He is expected to be ready to play Monday. Lendl’s executioner at the French Open, Michael Chang, 17, also made a smooth transition from third round to round of 16 with a 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-4 dismissal of Pieter Aldrich, and Mikael Pernfors knocked off 15th-seed Carl-Uwe Steeb 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. The usually mild-mannered Chang had what he considered errors in back-to-back line calls against Aldrich and protested. “It’s so frustrating. It’s 4:4, 30/0, and two points don’t go your way. That’s game right there,” Chang said. “Sometimes, you have to deal with it. Sometimes, you wonder if he (the umpire) is taking sides.” Yannick Noah of France completed his rain-interrupted, third-round rally over Amos Mansdorf at the U.S. Open on Saturday and then refused to shake hands with the Israeli because of an incident that started Friday night. Noah was loudly booed by the afternoon audience of 21,322. Later, he said Mansdorf had insulted his family during the Friday-night portion of the match and that he had delayed the confrontation until he finished the 3-6, 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-2 win Saturday afternoon. “Amos went to my family and insulted them,” Noah said. “I told him I didn’t want to shake his hand because of what he said to my family (repeating the obscenity). He tried to hit me as hard as he could yesterday, aiming for my groin. I thought that wasn’t very nice, and I told him that. He leaves the court, and he is cheered; I am booed.” Apparently, the incident occurred when Noah’s mother, sister and girlfriend clapped and cheered when Mansdorf made an error that aided Noah’s rally. “We’re going to talk, and everything is going to be all right,” Noah said. “Everybody is getting nervous about the whole issue, including me, because it’s not fair.” Mansdorf was cruising with a 6-3, 6-3, 5:3 lead when Noah started his comeback Friday. Noah won the third set in a tie-break, and they were even at 5-all in the fourth when rain interrupted play. Mansdorf confirmed he had made a comment to Noah’s sister, and he apologized after the match. “She was getting to me, and it was my fault that I let her get to me in a 20,000 (capacity) stadium,” Mansdorf said. “I lost a big point, and I just said something. That was unprofessional behavior, and I cannot forgive myself for that… Maybe that was why I could not concentrate today, because I was not happy with myself. I have no interest in fighting with Yannick. I think he is a good sportsman, a good guy, and if that is the way he feels, I will apologize. I have no problem with that.” The combatants reportedly talked the matter out and shook hands after they reached the dressing room. However, Noah may face a fine from the Men’s Pro Council. Mansdorf did not contend the action by Noah’s family cost him the match. “I lost the match because of the big points he played better than me,” Mansdorf said. “He played right, and he did what he had to do.” It was the major excitement of the holiday weekend at the Open, which attracted 41,843 on Saturday, and took the spotlight from a couple of upsets. Wild card Jim Grabb of Tucson, Ariz., eliminated No. 12 seed Emilio Sanchez of Spain 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-4. Grabb is better known as a doubles player, but he has been improving his singles ranking this year. “I played a special event in Tokyo and finally felt that I was relaxed on the court,” he said. “I beat Brad Gilbert and lost to Pete Samras. I went through a streak where I won a negligible amount of singles matches, but I was doing well in doubles. That helped me hang in there.” A unique part of Grabb’s win was that he played five long sets and lost his serve just once. He is the thinking man’s pick to emerge as the next No. 1 in men’s tennis. But at U.S. Opens, Boris Becker has yet to perform like he is anyone special. The No. 2 seed, he slipped into round four of the men’s singles Friday at the National Tennis Center, downing unseeded Miloslav Mecir 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in an uninspired three hours and three minutes. Becker mixed the pace admirably, coming to the net and staying back with no predictable pattern. At 5:3, 15/15 in the fourth set, he showed his world-renown characteristic grit, lunging and diving to poke home a winner. “I don’t really care if I hurt myself,” he said. “I just want to win the point and the match.” On the other hand, once again Becker failed to live up to the standard he’s set as the world’s second-ranked player. On critical second serves, for instance, he lost more points than he won (29-23). He also permitted Mecir, who isn’t nearly as powerful a hitter, to outscore him on first serves, 87-77. Becker blamed swirling winds at Stadium Court for his dull effort. “I was trying to hit it like a baseball player because the ball would go anywhere,” he said. But he also blamed himself. Spectators who have seen him play exclusively at U.S. Opens, he said, “haven’t seen the best Boris Becker that’s for sure.” Or, as Mecir said, ” Boris is never so bad that he should lose to anyone.” Jay Berger stabbed at the leaves with his racket, brushing them off the court before he prepared to serve. Ken Flach thought his opponent was being a little too meticulous with the housekeeping. ”What do you want, a street-cleaner?” Flach yelled at Berger. Flach picked a falling leaf off the court, got down on his knees and blew some more trash away. The crowd at windy Court 16 howled. But Berger did not blink. He bounced the ball and got ready to serve. Two points from the match, and victory in five sets, Berger did not find Flach’s flak amusing. All business, Berger won the next two points and swept Flach away 6-7(10), 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the round of 16 at the U.S. Open. ”I was totally focused in the last game,” said Berger of Plantation, the 11th seed. ”The wind was blowing a ton of leaves on the court and I thought it was best to brush them away. ‘Flach could have jumped up and down and taken off his clothes I would not have cared. At 5-4 in the fifth set, I do not see much humor. Anyway, I got the last laugh. I’m in the next round.” Berger fought back from a two-set deficit with confidence. ”I thought I could come back,” Berger said. ”Basically, I gave the first two sets away. I had about six set points in the first set (Berger led 5:3) and then I was up a break in the second.”
Fourth round: Bill Halls
No. 1 seed Ivan Lendl had his toughest test of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships before rallying to nip Russian star Andrei Chesnokov  on the packed Grandstand Court Monday and move into the quarterfinals. Lendl prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the 3-hour, 45-minute match that began in daylight but ended after the sun set at 8:11 p.m. “He played very well,” said the three-time Open champion. “He was forcing me to hit good shots. I was hitting the ball very clean but kept missing big points. Some were way long and others were just out.” Lendl had two early service breaks in the fourth set. Chesnokov got one back but Lendl served out the set with three aces in the deciding game. Lendl had break point opportunities early in the fifth set but couldn’t break the Soviet star until the seven game. On match point, Chesnokov hit a forehand wide. “For sure, the ball was in,” said Chesnokov. “But I made a mistake when I lost the first game of the fourth set. I had a very good chance to beat Ivan today. But he won.” Lendl said he did not see the ball Chesnokov hit on match point. “I was so pumped up, I couldn’t tell,” he said. “But they called it out. There were probably a lot of disputed calls in the match. But I just became more aggressive and I think the momentum began to change when I broke him twice in the fourth set.” Lendl will play No. 9 seed Tim Mayotte in the quarterfinals. Mayotte has always been listed among the promising American tennis players whose potential has never been realized. At 29, Mayotte may be a bit long in the tooth but he is beginning to rise. He overcame a 2:5 deficit in the first set and managed to upend French Open champion Michael Chang 7-5, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 on a cloudy, cool Labor Day to reach the quarterfinals. It was the ninth-seeded Mayotte’s second straight victory over No. 7 Chang, the 17-year-old Californian who, along with Andre Agassi, is considered one of the next great American players. Mayotte also beat Chang on grass at Wimbledon this summer. “A lot of it is timing and luck,” said Mayotte, who lives in Bradenton, Fla. “But I put in an extra special effort to prepare well for this tournament. Even though I was playing over the summer, I was training during the time that I was playing the tournaments. That’s part of the reason that things are paying off.” It was Mayotte’s first trip to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadow in 11 years. Twice before, he reached the fourth round of the Open. Mats Wilander of Sweden beat him in 1984 and another Swede, Anders Jarryd, eliminated Mayotte in 1985. When Chang rallied to win the third set 6-1, Mayotte was concerned but not alarmed. “You blink an eye and you lose a set,” said Mayotte. “I was very concerned at the start of the fourth set to get up a break.” Mayotte broke Chang with a forehand volley. He held serve the rest of the way and broke Chang again in the ninth game to win the match. “It wasn’t like he blew me off the court,” said Chang. “I’ve had no luck again Ivan but I’m really pumped up,” said Mayotte, who is 0-13 in career matches. “I’ll approach the match with a new freshness when I go out and play him. Last time that I played him was in Chicago, and I was up 6-1, 5-2, and I ended up losing the match. There will be some psychological hurdles, but if I play the way I played today, I’d be in there.” [ Mayotte referred to an exhibition match, in fact he led 6-4, 5:1, had two match points, and lost 2-6 in the 3rd set. ] Chang’s contemporary, Andre Agassi, advanced to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year with a 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 defeat of Jim Grabb, who advanced to the round of 16 by upsetting Goran Ivanisevic and Emilio Sanchez. Jimmy Connors, coming within another obscenity of being defaulted, reached into the past and stunned a sellout crowd of 21,310 by demolishing Swedish star Stefan Edberg in straight sets Monday night at the U.S. Open Championships. The 37-year-old five-time Open champion crushed Edberg 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to move into the quarterfinals. Connors is the oldest player to reach the quarterfinals since Ken Rosewall in 1974. The Australian was 39 that year and lost to a young Connors in the finals. It was the first of Connors’ five Open championships. On his birthday Saturday, Connors beat Andres Gomez then had to be treated for severe leg and stomach cramps for more than three hours after the match. But he showed no sign of cramping Monday night. If anything, he was his normal feisty self. Chair Umpire Richard Ings of Australia penalized Connors a game in the second set after an extraordinary outburst. Connors was trailing 0:1 when he exploded during the changeover, ostensibly over a linesman’s call that had gone against him. Trailing *0:2 (15/40) at that point, Connors went on to win the set 6-3 (he was 0:2 down also in the 1st set). Ings first warned Connors for verbal abuse, then issued a point penalty when Connors swatted a tennis ball directed at the umpire’s chair. The game penalty was called by Ings for unsportsmanlike conduct when Connors continued his verbal abuse. At that point, Connors was one step away from defaulting the match. “I told the umpire I was on a tight string,” said Connors. Connors’ explosive personality was another throwback to his youth when he was often penalized for code violations. He faces $2,250 in fines for this outburst. But he managed to calm down and went about his business. “There’s not much to say,” said Edberg, the No. 3 seed. “It was all very quick. I played a terrible match. My serve was the biggest problem. I couldn’t serve at all and I didn’t hit the ball well.” It was their third meeting in a Grand Slam tournament, and Connors every time was the winner (6-6 their H2H in the end). When Yannick Noah gets hot he is like a burning stump. When the flames grew higher Sunday afternoon and the word spread that Noah was on a roll, the audience left the Stadium court for the Grandstand at the National Tennis Center. Noah was rallying against Alberto Mancini at the Grandstand and Boris Becker was dragging Mikael Pernfors through a 3:29 four-set match in the Stadium. Noah won three straight games at the end of the fourth set and the first four games of the fifth. He advanced to the quarterfinals 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-3 in just five minutes longer than it took Becker to score a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over Pernfors. ”Before in Grand Slams, I’ve had quite easy draws,” Becker said. “In this Grand Slam, I’ve had a tough draw. I have to make the best of it, and I’m happy with the way I’m fighting on court. The bottom line is winning when you’re not playing well.” Noah, who recently had considered retiring, said he has nothing to lose against Becker. ”I’m glad I’m there, and I’m playing to win,” Noah said. ”He’s a strong player and we know each other.” Jay Berger, the 11th seed, stopped unseeded Pete Sampras, the 18-year-old who beat defending champ Mats Wilander. Berger’s 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 victory put him into the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event for the second time. He lost to Becker in straight sets at the French Open this year, and lost in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open in 1985, his only other Grand Slam appearance. Berger next plays 14th-seeded Aaron Krickstein, who beat John McEnroe’s second-round conqueror, Paul Haarhuis, 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.
Quarterfinals: Zan Hale, Charles Carder
Boris Becker has disappointed himself and others in past attempts to win the U.S. Open. Last night, in blowing Yannick Noah off the court 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, he gave his best indication that the disappointments may be nearing an end. “He played his best match on cement I ever saw him play,” Becker’s manager, Ion Tiriac, said. Becker, seeded second, reached the semifinals for the second time in five years. “In five years, I’ve always had to struggle a little bit to win here,” Becker said. “That was probably my most consistent and best match here.” Noah, unseeded but playing well coming into the match, could offer little resistance against Becker’s lightning serve, pinpoint volleys and punishing return of serve. “Maybe I put the (video) tape back at the beginning and I can read his serves this time,” Noah said. “They were much too fast for me. The first one was very hard and the second was too high.” Becker put in a very average 56 percent of his first serves, but he won 79 percent of points off his second serve. “I think my second serve was extremely good,” Becker said. “With a good second serve, it keeps the other guy off balance.” Noah never found his. Becker broke him early in each set and was serving too well for Noah to have a prayer of breaking back. Noah never held a break point and won a total of 10 points in Becker’s service games. “Once I felt that way during his service games, the rest of my game went down,” Noah said. “He didn’t make many unforced errors. He didn’t make any stupid mistakes.” A combination of nerves and playing in the afternoon sun knocked Jay Berger out of the tournament. Aaron Krickstein, seeded 14th, won 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 1-0, retired. “Obviously you don’t want to win a match like that,” Krickstein, 22, said. “Jay is a friend of mine and I would have rather won the match straight out. But you take what you can get. I felt that I was going to win anyway. That was the way that the match was going. I felt pretty confident.” Berger, 22, seeded 11th, started having problems down a break 3:2 in the third set. At 15/15 on Krickstein’s serve, Berger was being pulled from side to side. He cramped up at the point’s end. “When I saw him cramp up, I kind of choked the backhand down the line,” Krickstein said. That was the last point Berger won. He couldn’t move to return Krickstein’s serves and barely got his own serves over the net. “The tension may have gotten the best of me,” Berger said. “I must have done something improperly preparing for the match that I didn’t realize my electrolytes were low. I felt very tired after the first set and after the second set, I was feeling pretty bad.” Under Grand Prix rules, cramps are not considered an injury and therefore the player can’t take an injury timeout or get help from a trainer. When Berger wasn’t able to recover in two changeovers, he was forced to quit. “It would have been absolutely stupid to continue the match,” Berger said. “I might have really hurt myself physically.”
Andre Agassi  had his neck in the noose but Jimmy Connors, who often has worn the hangman’s hood during his tennis career, couldn’t tighten the rope and whip the horse out from under the kid. Agassi, his face ashen after he had seen his command of their semifinal match at the U.S. Open slip away twice, finally put away the aging warrior 6-1, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 6-4 to qualify for the Saturday semifinals at the National Tennis Center. It was the first time in six tries that Agassi has won a five-set match (17 years later finished his career with a 27-22 record). Agassi will oppose Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia in the semifinal in the upper half of the draw. Lendl defeated  Tim Mayotte 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 Thursday night. Though Agassi walked off the court a winner, Connors didn’t give Agassi any credit. “He was gagging, but I started (to rally) too late in the fifth to give him the chance to (gag),” said Connors. “He was starting to… I wish I could have given myself a better opportunity to do it more. Instead of getting down 4:0 in a hurry, I wish I would have been 3:1. Then I would have gotten the momentum going for me, then it would have been a different story.” He was asked to explain the feeling. Agassi praised the effort by the 37-year-old Connors. “I just think that he raised his game a lot,” said Agassi. “He gave a tremendous effort out there. He deserves a lot of respect for that. I felt that the longer the match went, it would lean more toward my side. I thought he was getting a little tired out there and so I decided to be more patient. He didn’t run out of steam, we just battled it out until the last point.” For the record, Agassi broke Connors’ serve in the first, third and seventh games and won the 1st set in 38 minutes on his seventh set point. Connors leveled with breaks in the first and fifth games of the 2nd set and took the lead by winning six straight games in the 3rd. Connors double faulted on break point in the fourth game of the 4th set. Agassi fought off three break points in the ninth game and closed out the set with an ace. Agassi jumped out to a 4:0 lead in the final set and was in front 5:1. “It’s not that I gave it to him when he came back to 5:4,” Agassi said. “He just raised his game like six levels. The crowd obviously wasn’t helping either, but I can understand why. I just hope when and if I ever get to 37, still playing tennis, I would hope that the people that I’ve faced over years would stand behind me like they did him.” [ Indeed it happened, but Agassi played until he turned 36… ] In contrast Connors was asked if he could see a little of himself in Agassi. “No,” he replied. “I’ve always enjoyed being one of a kind.” Lendl won 11 straight games, between the 10th game of the first set and the fifth game of the third set, and by that time the decision was not in doubt. Lendl’s win was a blue-collar job but, as usual he felt he could have played better. “Compared to the way I would like to play, this was pathetic,” he said. “You know how I would like to play, don’t worry about it, it will never happen. To the way I usually play, I would say that this was very reasonable.”
Semifinals: Bill Halls
The big tennis matches come down to mental toughness and nerves, and Boris Becker and Ivan Lendl were able to handle both better than Aaron Krickstein and Andre Agassi Saturday in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. It’s Lendl’s eighth consecutive Open final and Becker’s first. Lendl has a 7-6 edge in career matches, but Becker won their only previous Grand Slam showdown at Wimbledon in 1986. “I’m trying to win the U.S. Open,” Lendl said. “Past records don’t mean a thing. You start out at 0-0.” Becker eliminated Krickstein 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 before a sellout crowd of more than 21,471 at the National Tennis Center. By late afternoon, the crowd had dwindled to half that size as Lendl dispatched Agassi 7-6(4), 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 in the other semifinal. Both Krickstein and Agassi said they believed Lendl was the tougher of the two players in a big match. “I always start at a level and stay at it,” Lendl said of his consistent play. “Other players may start at a higher level and then fall off. My level may rise but it will never fall below where I start out.” Agassi blew a 5:2* lead in the 1st set and, after being broken in the final set, won only four points in the last four games. “When he gets in trouble, he starts hitting the ball harder,” Lendl said of his 19-year-old opponent. “Sooner or later, if you keep hitting the ball that hard, it’s going to go out.” Agassi said that Lendl simply never let him in the match after the first-set tiebreaker. “Ivan is the type of player that if you give him something, it doesn’t take him long to take advantage,” Agassi said. “When he gets it going, it’s hard to stop him.” Neither Becker nor Krickstein played especially inspiring tennis. But Becker, a three-time Wimbledon champion, proved tougher on the big points. “It doesn’t really matter how you play,” Becker said. “It’s whether you win or lose. A semifinal like this does not have much to do with tennis. It has more to do with keeping your nerves under control.” The loss was a disappointment for Krickstein, 22, who had reached the semifinals at the Open for the first time in a seven-year pro career. Krickstein, normally a baseliner, went to the net 36 times and won 20 points. Becker, who stayed back most of the afternoon – except when he needed to be aggressive and win a big point – converted 42 of 64 volleys. But Becker, who has a booming first serve, managed to connect on only 46 percent in the match. Krickstein had numerous chances to break Becker, including two break points in the first game. Indeed, he broke the West German twice in the first set. But Becker would raise his game a notch and break right back. After Krickstein broke Becker for the second time in the ninth game of the first set, Becker broke back at 15/40 with three outright winners to win the set. In the second set, Krickstein had three break points in the first game. But Becker managed to hold serve with an ace and a service winner. Becker broke Krickstein in the sixth game and Krickstein broke right back only to be broken again by Becker in the eighth game. Becker had the only break in the third set. It came in the seventh game and he hung on to serve out the set on a hot, humid afternoon. Krickstein said: “On some big points I got nervous. I had a lot of chances and kind of let a game slip away in the first set. I thought if I could win one set and stay out there 3 1/2 or four hours, I might tire him out.” The match lasted 2 hours and 49 minutes. “It was hot but I’m used to the heat because I live in Florida,” said Krickstein, who has a home in Boca Raton. Becker said every player raises his game on certain key points. “I prefer to do it when I’m down a break point,” he said. “He’s a tough player. All the time he comes back. He never gives up.” Becker said he planned to be more aggressive early in the match, “But he broke me first, and I had to change my plan.” Becker’s three Wimbledon victories, including this year, are his only Grand Slam titles. He’s never played in a U.S. Open final before. “You have to play more than just a big serve here,” Becker said. “You have to be able to hit solid ground strokes. You have to go out and tell yourself they you’ll have to say on the court four hours. I didn’t play that well in my first couple of matches but my attitude was to hang in there. And there are the airplanes, the heat, the noise of the spectators. To win here you have to go out and have fun like (Jimmy) Connors did for 18 years. That’s what I’ve learned.”
Final: Bill Halls
Personal spirit and a net-cord shot back in the second round carried Boris Becker to the U.S. Open Tennis Championship over three-time champion Ivan Lendl before an appreciative crowd of 19,267 fans on a hot, muggy Sunday. “It’s quite unbelievable,” he said of his first U.S. Open victory, a stunning 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) triumph in 3 hours 51 minutes. “The difference in the match was maybe two shots. But that’s usually the difference between No. 1 and No. 2.” Lendl, on the computer, is ranked the world’s top player and Becker is No. 2. But this is the second Grand Slam final the West German has beaten Lendl, having also taken him at Wimbledon. Becker said he had a solid serving day and was able to serve and volley more than he had in other matches. He finished Lendl off in the fourth set tiebreaker with a blistering ace and a smoking service winner that was returned low into the net. “Boris played really well,” said Lendl, playing in his eighth straight U.S. Open final. “He served well and put a lot of pressure on me. I gave it my best. I had hoped to win the tie-break and take it to a fifth set. But Boris didn’t let that happen.” On match point, Becker raised both arms in the air and then tossed his racquet some 30 rows into the stands. It was his fourth Grand Slam triumph (23rd overall). He has won three Wimbledon titles. “One thing about tennis,” Becker said. “You never have a perfect day. But on a scale of one to ten, I had a ten in spirit today. In my play, I’m sometimes a ten and sometimes a one. I was two match points down to No. 62 in the world a week and a half ago.” He referred to a second round five-set match with Derrick Rostagno. His opponent was in position to hit a match-winning volley if the ball had not been a net-cord. Becker, who won $300,000 first prize in the richest U.S. Open in history, proved tough on the big points most of the day. The match started out in 93 degree heat with 115-degree temperatures on the floor of the Stadium Court. But Lendl said the weather was pleasant after the sun began to set. Becker won the first set (76 minutes) by dominating Lendl in the tiebreaker (the West German started the match leading 3:0, but all games went to ‘deuce’). In the second set, Lendl broke Becker in the fourth game and won handily. Becker proved his mettle in the third set. After jumping in front 3:0, he was broken in the seventh game. But Becker broke Lendl at love in the eighth game to go up 5:3. Down a break point on his own serve, Becker blasted a volley winner to get back to deuce and then won the set with an ace and a service winner. There were four breaks of serve in the 4th set, Lendl led *2:0, afterwards Becker 4:2 (deuce). In the tie-break Lendl led 2:0 again, but lost four straight points. Becker finished the championships as the previous set: with an ace (his 10th) and service winner. ”Actually, I was smiling; I had quite a good feeling when I served at 5:4,” Becker said of his domination in the tie breaker. ”What it is, is believing in yourself: I was able to play my game out there, and he more or less couldn’t find his game.’ My goal is to be the best I can be. I’m coming quite close right now.” He finally has rid himself of the “can only win on grass” tagline. “That doesn’t concern me,” Becker said. “I just go out and do my best. I won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year but the computer doesn’t say I’m No. 1. I’m quite close if not No. 1. I found out after winning Wimbledon at 17 everyone expected me to take (beat) everyone easily. It was quite tough on me for the next two years. I learned a great deal. They call me 21 now. In some aspects, I’m still 15 and in some I’m 35.” Becker said one thing he has learned if that he cannot do any better than try his best. “You know, Lendl has been there eight times and he knows he’ll be back (in the Open final) next year. I don’t know if I’ll be back.” [ In fact, Lendl didn’t play another final at the US Open. ] So my desire may be a little bit more than his was today.” With countrywoman Steffi Graf’s victory in the women’s singles final Saturday, West Germany swept two major titles this year. Graf also won Wimbledon. Becker is the first German male since Baron Gottfried von Cramm to play in a U.S. Open final. Don Budge defeated Von Cramm in the 1937 final. The victory also evened Becker’s record against Lendl at 7-7, although Becker has won the last four matches. Stats of the final