U.S. Open, New York
August 27, 1990; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $2,554,250; Surface – Hard
Pete Sampras becomes the youngest US Open champion in history overcoming a finalist of the previous eight editions (Ivan Lendl), a 4-time champion (John McEnroe) and the biggest young star at the time (Andre Agassi) in back-to-back matches!
First round: Kelly Carter
Jimmy Connors suffered leg cramps Saturday, and was forced to retire from a match in the WCT Tournament of Champions (exhibition), jeopardizing his participation in the U.S. Open, which begins Monday, in New York. Connors and Ivan Lendl had just begun the third set in their quarterfinal. With Connors serving, the left-hander, who will be 38 Sept. 2, ended a long point in the second game by sprinting to the net and lifting a winning forehand down the line. He continued to the umpire’s chair and told umpire Kim Craven he was retiring from the match. He immediately went to the clubhouse at the West Side Tennis Club to have his leg examined. “His left calf was cramping and he was exhausted,” a tournament spokesman said. “And he was beginning to cramp elsewhere in his body.” Connors missed the US Open for the first time in 20 years! He was supposed to play his first tournament since February, he was sidelined six months due to an injury.
Former pro Arthur Ashe believes Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Pete Sampras, among a wave of young players at the U.S. Open, are talented enough that one will be the first U.S. pro ranked No. 1 since John McEnroe in 1984. “Agassi could break through any minute; he could do it this year at the Open,” said Ashe, the 1968 Open champion. “Courier’s biggest asset is he’s a fighter. You know he’s going to fight till the last point. What I like is that they’re all good kids, even Agassi, deep down.” Said Courier: “We’re certainly in good position.” No. 14 Courier defeated Australia’s Wally Masur 6-4, 6-0, 5-7, 6-1 before rain wiped out much of Monday’s schedule. Courier, 20, relied mainly on power ground strokes, banging the ball from corner to corner. “He plays high-stakes tennis,” Ashe said. “He goes for a lot of low-percentage shots.” Against Masur, Courier mixed in an occasional lob. “You can’t beat everybody with power,” he said. “You have to adjust.” Courier, a three-year pro, didn’t have the quick success enjoyed by his junior compatriots, Agassi and Chang. He moved up the rankings gradually – No. 348 in 1987, No. 43 in ’88 and No. 24 in ’89. “It doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there,” he said. “At least it’s been a steady move upward. I’ll get there.” His most satisfying victory was last year when he beat Stefan Edberg in the Basel, Switzerland, final. “That was my first win against a legitimate top-three player,” he said. “That was a turning point.” Chang walked into a near-empty interview room Tuesday that only moments before was filled with nosy reporters. The focus of the reporters’ attention had been John McEnroe. With the exception of six people, no one cared about Chang’s first-round victory. But then again, Chang’s 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 victory over a hapless Mikael Pernfors wasn’t anything to get excited about. Although he is seeded 11th, Chang is not a favorite, sentimental or otherwise, to win the prestigious hard-court event. All of which was fine with the Placentia teen-ager. No press is good press as far as he’s concerned. “It doesn’t bother me any,” said Chang. “In some ways, it’s good to sneak through without anyone noticing you. A good example is what happened to Edberg at Wimbledon ’88 or me at the French (in 1989).” No. 12 Sampras downed Dan Goldie 6-1, 7-5, 6-1. Straight sets wins notched also Agassi dismissing Grant Connell. Fifth best American of the 90s, 20-year-old Todd Martin , made his Grand Slam debut losing to Jean-Philippe Fleurian 6-7(6), 3-6, 6-7(5). Just 15 days after taking over the No. 1 spot in men’s tennis, Stefan Edberg suffered a shocking loss in his first-round U.S. Open match. Soviet Alexander Volkov, ranked No. 52 in the world, brought down Edberg, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-2, on the Stadium court of the National Tennis Center on Tuesday. Still, Edberg will remain No. 1 when rankings come out Sept. 10. Because of the complicated computer system, No. 2 Boris Becker and No. 3 Ivan Lendl can’t surpass him. The first-round upset of the No. 1 seed at the Open – for the first time since 1971, when John Newcombe lost to Jan Kodes in four sets, and the sixth time in 110 years – made everything else in Day 2 minuscule. John McEnroe, 31 and unseeded in the Open for the first time in 12 years, took 2 hours, 41 minutes to secure a 7-6(8), 7-6(3), 6-4 crowd-pleasing victory over Spaniard Javier Sanchez at Louis Armstrong Stadium. It has been a helter-skelter year for Edberg in Grand Slams. After advancing to the Australian Open final, he pulled out during play against Lendl because of a pulled stomach muscle. In the first round of the French, Edberg, again the top seed, was sent on his way by Sergi Bruguera. Then, in an-about face, Edberg defeated Becker in five sets for his second Wimbledon title. “I didn’t play a very good match (Tuesday),” said Edberg, whose best Open showing was in 1986 and ’87, when he advanced to the semifinals. “I didn’t feel very comfortable. I was struggling out there to find my game, the usual way I play.” He won 24 of 25 matches after the French Open, the loss coming to Becker in the semifinals at Queen’s Club, a Wimbledon tuneup. He brought a career-high 21-match winning streak into the Open and was unequivocally the hottest male player. Until, that is, he met Volkov, a 6’2, 23-year-old from Moscow who never has won a professional tournament and certainly didn’t expect to beat Edberg. “He’s No. 1” Volkov said. “He’s played so many tough matches. He was so many times down, and then he won.” So pessimistic was Volkov, who plays on his country’s Davis Cup team and was a member of the 1988 Olympic team, that he had planned to leave immediately after the match to play in Berlin. Volkov grew up in Kalinigrad, a small town on the Baltic Sea with a population of about 400,000. He started playing when he was 10 but wasn’t afforded such luxuries as new rackets and balls, things Americans take for granted. The popularity of tennis is growing in his country, and after his victory over Edberg, it’s likely to move up another notch. Prior to Tuesday, Volkov and Edberg had met only once, with the Swede winning, 6-2, 6-4, last year. Volkov had watched Edberg’s topspin serve on television many times and knew what he had to do to counter it. Volkov broke Edberg for 5:3 in the first set before serving out the set. Edberg double-faulted to fall behind two games to love but still came back to lead, 6:5. On set point on Volkov’s serve, the Russian nailed a backhand down the line to get it back to deuce, and a couple of more winners down the line helped him go up, 2-0. Still, Edberg said he didn’t think he was in serious trouble. He was waiting for Volkov to fall apart, as he did last year in the third round of the Open. Volkov had jumped to a two sets-to-love lead against then-No. 14 Aaron Krickstein, but lost in five sets. “I thought that might happen,” Edberg said. Instead, it was Edberg, winner of four Grand Slam tournaments, who continued to fall apart. For Edberg, it marked the third time in his career that he had lost in the first round of a Grand Slam. He also lost at the U.S. Open in 1983 to Krickstein. After a first-round bye in the 1983 Australian Open, he lost to Jeff Borowiak in four sets. His first-round loss at the French was a little easier to take than this. Mikhail Gorbachev will always have Alexander Volkov’s vote. “It’s much freer, it’s because Mr. Gorbachev came,” said Volkov. “I can play anywhere I want to, with someone along or on my own. I can keep all my prize money, I just have to pay taxes. Gorbachev came and everything became more open.” Tomas Muster, suspended for 10 weeks and fined $20,000 by the ATP Tour, plans to appeal the penalty within 10 days. “We do not feel that it was a fair suspension,” Ronald Leitgeb, agent for the Austrian player, said Tuesday. “The investigations were not done very properly.” Muster, ranked sixth in the world, was hit with the penalties by the tour on Sunday. The ATP Tour sanctions the men’s circuit except the four Grand Slam tournaments. On Monday, Thomas Muster advanced to the second round of the U.S Open after Aki Rahunen retired with the score at 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 3-0. Before the ATP penalties, Muster had been fined $5,000 during the Czechoslovakian Open in Prague. The ATP Tour said its action was taken against Muster for violating the “best efforts and unsportsmanlike conduct.” Prior to his first match in Prague, the top-seeded Muster told several people that because of an injury he would only play one or two games before defaulting. He lost the first game, then retired. Leitgeb said that Muster suffered a muscle injury in his left hip during a tournament in Kitzbuehel, the week before Prague. Muster retired in the third set of his first match against West Germany’s Eric Jelen. The longest day session in U.S. Open history, 13 hours of tennis and thunderstorms, ended early Tuesday morning with Brad Gilbert outlasting 1988 champion Mats Wilander in a four-set thriller. Only a few hundred stalwart, sometimes yawning fans remained from the record crowd of 21,863 when the eighth-seeded Gilbert won the final point of opening day to beat Wilander 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in just over three hours at 12:11 a.m. Wilander, who has dropped to No. 59 in the rankings in a year of frustration on the courts, was unseeded. His loss was his earliest ever in nine years at the Open. Gilbert, knocked out in the first round last year, came back from 2:5 down in the fourth set, fought off two set points and completed a string of five straight games to take the match. Neither rain nor a crafty foe from Spain could stop Boris Becker as he and fellow defending champion Steffi Graf began with victories on a day of weird weather and strange silence. The rumbling of jets was only a memory Monday as players and fans enjoyed blissful quiet thanks to a new arrangement to change the takeoff routes from nearby LaGuardia Airport. Becker, who had been scheduled to play during the day, didn’t finish his two-hour match with Juan Aguilera until late in the evening after waiting out a series of thunderstorms that caused three suspensions of play. After the hard court in the stadium was mopped and wiped dry, Becker attacked the net aggressively and served well to score a 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 win against Aguilera, who beat Becker on clay in Hamburg last May. “It was difficult after the long rain delay,” Becker said. “It was very humid and that made (the court) slower. The balls got much bigger (because of the moisture). It was difficult at the beginning to adjust. I thought I better get going or I’d be down one set. I was not very happy to be down 5:3.” Now the French Open champion is gone, too. A day after Wimbledon champion Edberg – the world’s top-ranked player – was upset in the first round at the U.S. Open, Andres Gomez, the French Open champion, was eliminated today by Brazil’s Luiz Mattar. Mattar beat the fifth-seeded Gomez, ranked fifth in the world, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. “I wasn’t prepared for this tournament,” Gomez said. “You might be poorly prepared like I was, or you might be greatly prepared like Edberg.” In June, Gomez won his first Grand Slam title in Paris, but a few weeks later he was a first-round loser at Wimbledon. It was the first time since the Open era began in 1968 that two reigning Grand Slam champions lost in the first round of the U.S. Open.
Second round: Robin Finn
Yannick Noah left the stadium court at the United States Open Thursday with his head bowed, a meek position he has been assuming on a weekly basis this year not because he has become a devout churchgoer, but because he has become a dependable loser. At 30, Noah still cuts a dashing figure from across the net. Even his second-round opponent, the defending Open champion, Boris Becker, avowed that he can shut his eyes and find he’s still unable to erase the stylish image that Noah, with his lush dreadlocks and sculptured limbs, has embedded there. But lately, Noah’s substance has not kept pace with his style. And the golden hoop that sparkled from his left ear lobe seemed appropriate. Not because it lent him extra flair, but because it conjured a gypsy image woefully in keeping with the nomadic life style Noah’s lack of success has forced upon him. “I’m living one week after the other right now,” said Noah, who tends to be living them in a rapidly changing pastiche of locales because of his inability to remain solvent beyond two rounds in 14 of the 17 events on his calendar this year. Noah shrugged into and out of retirement like a discarded garment last year, but Thursday, after Becker becalmed his attempts to flare up in the course of a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(2) defeat, his 16th in 31 matches, the Frenchman again appeared on the verge of recoiling from his tennis career. “I’m interested in other things besides tennis, like my kids,” said Noah, whose son and daughter live with their mother in Paris. “And after every tournament I’m thinking, ‘OK, what’s next?'” Noah had a chance to serve for the third set at 5:3 after breaking Becker in the eighth game. But after starting the game with one of the six aces he put past Becker, his resolve crumbled and Becker earned and dominated the tie breaker. On the last point of the match, Noah, who fell behind, 4:0, stood frozen at midcourt as Becker’s crisp, backhand pass flew past him and bounced just within the sideline, a signal to Noah that once again it was time to leave town. “I didn’t expect to play that good that early,” said Becker, who was a primer in consistency – he posted no double faults – but who usually reserves such diligence for later rounds. Ivan Lendl donned his desert hat under a broiling sun and wandered in the wilderness for 40 games before becoming the only one of this year’s men’s Grand Slam champions to survive in the U.S. Open. Lendl lost his way in the second set as he struggled with errors against West German Michael Stich, but came through with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 victory Wednesday to reach the third round. Lendl said Stich’s blazing serves and aggressive style made the match much tougher than anticipated. “He pushes and pushes, and then he sneaks in on an unusual shot,” Lendl said. “He puts a lot of pressure on you that way.” Stich captured the second set when he broke Lendl in the 12th game after blowing three set-points. Lendl fell behind 0/40 with three unforced errors, but brought the game back to deuce with crosscourt shots that had Stich racing around and gasping for breath. After the third deuce of the game, Lendl smacked an easy backhand volley into the net and went back to the baseline fuming. Stich finally took the set on an overhead that Lendl could only bounce back to the net on a half-volley. John McEnroe, bringing back the bad old days by bashing his racket against the wall and smashing a ball within inches of a lineswoman, reached the third round for the first time since 1987 by beating David Engel 6-2, 6-3, 7-5. McEnroe got only half of his first serves in, but he dealt out 11 aces and 16 service winners. He lost his temper a couple of times, drawing a warning once for cracking a sign on the court with his racket, as he fell behind 2:5 in the third set. But he managed to regain control and take the next five games with a splendid array of touch volleys, hard ground strokes and deep, angled serves. Edberg’s conqueror, Alexander Volkov, didn’t enjoy his success very long as he tumbled out in the second round against Todd Witsken, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. Goran Ivanisevic, 19, beat Omar Camporese 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(3) despite playing a baseline style that seemed ill-suited to him and much different from the net-charging attack he showed while reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon. Michael Chang, who won the French Open last year at the age of 17, beat former teen-age phenomenon Jimmy Arias 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2. Aaron Krickstein, the youngest male ever to win a professional tournament when he captured one in Tel Aviv several years ago, eliminated Jason Stoltenberg, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. Brad Gilbert, the No. 8 seed, also grabbed a third-round berth by defeating Rick Leach 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-2. Krickstein, 23, is trying to duplicate his feat of last year when he reached the semifinals at the National Tennis Center. Krickstein, whose big forehand and strong baseline game helped him move as high as No. 7 in the world rankings, has a history of injuries. And today, he injured his right shoulder in the third set against Stoltenberg. “I am concerned,” he said. “I would be lying if I said I’m not.” The only upset of note was Gary Muller besting No. 14 Jim Courier, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(6), 7-6(5). And even that wasn’t so surprising, since Muller, ranked No. 61, has beaten Brad Gilbert and Stefan Edberg this season, and has a massive serve that worked for 24 aces. Andre Agassi, cursing and spitting at the umpire, talked his way out of trouble and barely beat a hobbled Petr Korda in a tense and dramatic U.S. Open match on Thursday night. In the second set, Agassi was given a warning and a point penalty, which was rescinded moments later after the umpire conferred with the tournament referee. Agassi went on to a 7-5, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 victory over Korda, who turned his ankle in the eighth game of the fourth set but refused to quit. Korda received treatment for his ankle, then came back and won the next point with a backhand crosscourt while limping badly. Agassi served an ace to win the game and take a 5:3 lead, but again Korda grimaced and held on. Korda held serve, limping continually, but couldn’t stop Agassi’s service for the match. Agassi’s encounter with Wayne McKewen occurred as Korda served in the 11th game of the second set. McKewen overruled a line call at deuce, giving Korda game point. Agassi then drew a warning for audible obscenity directed at McKewen. Korda went on to hold serve, and on the changeover Agassi spit, apparently at McKewen. The umpire immediately gave Agassi a point penalty and called for tournament referee Keith Johnson and Grand Slam supervisor Ken Farrar. Farrar and Johnson told McKewen to rescind the penalty, because “he may have misread” the gesture. But McKewen misunderstood and assessed it anyway, which meant that Agassi would be another violation from disqualification. Agassi erupted, Farrar and Johnson returned, and finally it was settled with no penalty. McKewen rolled his eyes, and the match continued. Later, Agassi denied he used obscenities, but admitted that some of his saliva hit McKewen. “I didn’t swear,” he said. “I spit, but not at him. Obviously some of it hit him, but it wasn’t intentional.” Agassi also said he apologized to McKewen afterward. “I got carried away with the fact that there were a few bad line calls,” he said. “I think there are a lot more positive things to talk about. I yelled out in anger and he saw it as abusive language. He thought I swore, which I didn’t. Then I lost my temper.” No. 12 Pete Sampras beat Sweden’s Peter Lundgren 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Goodbye Sweden when Johan Carlsson lost to Jay Berger on Thursday night. This is the first time since 1974 that there hasn’t been at least one Swede in the third round. Bjorn Borg was the first Swede to reach the third round in the Open era in 1973, but lost in the second round of the 1974 Open.
Third round: Charles Carder
Ivan Lendl, a grizzled veteran and winner of eight Grand Slam titles, said Friday that it takes experience to withstand the pressure of the U.S. Open, and that is why he’s breezing through the draw right now. ”Many times, you win not only because of the stroke play but because of your experience,” said Lendl, a 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-2 third-round winner over Alex Antonitsch. ”Especially in the Grand Slams, it’s hard to play best-of-five (sets),” he said. ”You get into the five-set match, you need to know how to pace yourself, or you have to be in incredible shape to play all five sets at the same level. It takes a while to do that for the younger players.” Lendl, who learned his game with an archaic wooden racket, said many younger players today are sacrificing control with the bigger, wide-body rackets that they use. ”All the lousy bounces you get don’t bother you because the sweet spot is bigger and you have more power,’‘ Lendl said. He thinks the prospects are excellent for the United States to be the dominant nation of men’s tennis in the next few years. “There is a lot of talent in men’s tennis in the U.S. right now. It’s just a question of one or two of them shooting up to make it one, two, three in the world. That’s the last step. The most difficult step. A lot of players have been in the top 10. A lot of players have gotten up to No. 4. Only a few have gotten higher than that.” No less an authority than Arthur Ashe thinks Pete Sampras is the best prospect of the group. He singled out Sampras because he had the determination to put down his two-fisted backhand a couple of years ago. Sampras made a believer out of Jakob Hlasek on Friday when he whipped the Czechoslovakian player 6-3, 6-4, 6-1. “He has the game to win it, win it all,” Hlasek said “It is tough to play him because you don’t know what is coming. It is very hard to see what he is doing, I had no clue what to do. I had no timing at all.” Sampras, obviously pleased by the compliment, asked for a few more years of preparation. “Maybe in a couple of years but I don’t think that it’s realistic right now. I think I have the game, it’s just a matter of putting it all together at one time and keeping my concentration at a high level. I can do it in a couple of years but it’s tough, for the way that I play, to win a Grand Slam at age 19.” Sampras’ next opponent, No. 6 Thomas Muster of Austria needed a fifth-set tiebreaker to beat Jaime Yzaga of Peru, 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), and advance into the fourth round. ”I just wasn’t playing as perfectly as in the first two sets, so he came back into the game,” Muster said. ”Unfortunately, he was playing very good backhand slices to my forehand.” They cheered his volleys. They cheered his forehands. Sometimes they even cheered his opponent’s errors. Friday night, John McEnroe could do little wrong in the eyes of New Yorkers. They wanted to see him move on to the fourth round. The capacity Stadium Court crowd of 19,233 did not go home disappointed. McEnroe, a New York resident, put away 10th-ranked Andrei Chesnokov, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, to advance. “It’s easy to play at home,” said McEnroe, who recently moved from Malibu to New York. “It helps you get the juices flowing when the crowd is behind you. I think they’re happy to see me because they know it could be their last opportunity to see me play.” The crowds will get a chance to see McEnroe again on Sunday. McEnroe, who is unseeded for the first time in 12 years, will play seventh-seeded Emilio Sanchez in the fourth round. “I won’t be getting any free points against Sanchez,” McEnroe said. “He doesn’t pass as well as Andrei does. I’ll have to pick up my game a little more, then I’ll be in good shape.” The crowd booed lustily on each feeble stroke, each half-hearted volley. But Goran Ivanisevic was oblivious. He proceeded to “tank” several of the remaining games during his 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-0 loss to Darren Cahill Saturday in the third round of the U.S. Open. Afterward, Ivanisevic not only admitted to voluntarily relinquishing the match, he offered an explanation: “In the fifth set, he broke me in the first game and then I went crazy,” began the 18-year-old Yugoslav. “It was just too much… Then I tanked two games.” Asked if he understood the meaning of “tank,” Ivanisevic replied, “I’m not trying. I just want to finish the match.” He got only four points in the decider, losing all his three service games to ‘love’. Cahill also saw it that way. “I think it was a pretty gutless effort in the fifth set, to be honest. He virtually gave me the match as soon as I won the first game of the fifth set. But he’s young. He’ll learn.” In the only upsets of the day – there were no real stunners after the Ivanisevic affair. While a packed crowd observed Chang’s defeat on the grandstand court, tournament supervisor Ken Farrar reviewed a tape of the Ivanisevic-Cahill match and summoned the youngster to his office. Farrar concluded that Ivanisevic’s statements were “misconstrued” due to the language barrier and decided against disciplinary action. “In my opinion, this was a mental letdown that led to a physical letdown in which he, consciously or unconsciously, was a beaten player,” said Farrar. Amos Mansdorf of Israel, ranked 41, knocked out No. 8 Brad Gilbert 5-7, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 in a four-hour match that wore down Gilbert until he was barely able to move in the final set. Mansdorf gave up only one point in the last three games, then spryly hopped over the net to shake the weary Gilbert’s hand. “I really got tired in the fifth,” Gilbert said. “I gave it everything I had in the fourth. His backhand passing shot was unbelievable. He didn’t miss a thing. I ran out of gas.” Soviet Andrei Cherkasov, ranked 50th, had little problem taking charge at the net and knocking off the error-prone Michael Chang. Chang’s baseline game, so effective on the clay in Paris, remains ill-suited for the speed of hard courts. Cherkasov won 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, and will play Christo van Rensburg of South Africa, who beat Brazilian Luiz Mattar 6-1, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Early in the third set, Cherkasov’s legs tired and began to cramp, a problem’s he’s had before, but managed to cope with this time. “In this day and age, there are so many good players, it’s difficult to go out there and beat everybody comfortably,” the 11th-seeded Chang said. ”That’s why you see so many upsets.” Andre Agassi, the men’s fourth seed, had an easy time, without a repeat of his cursing and spitting act a few days earlier, as he advanced to the fourth round with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-0 victory against Franco Davin. Defending champion Boris Becker beat Tomas Carbonell, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, in a night match to set up a fourth-round match against surprising Cahill. Aaron Krickstein, No. 9, had a tough time but got by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, 6-4, 7-6(4), 7-6(2). Krickstein will play Mansdorf in the round of 16.
Fourth round: AP
John McEnroe… unseeded and on the edge of retirement, recovered his skills and found enough energy to beat the No. 7 Emilio Sanchez of Spain, 7-6(6), 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in 4 hours 20 minutes, to reach the quarterfinals. The first four sets could have gone either way. Sanchez led 4:2 in the first-set tiebreaker, then missed an overhead. ”At 5:2 in the tiebreaker, it is very difficult to come back,” Sanchez said. ”I think I should have won it.” Beyond style and touch in his range of shots, he showed the resilience lacking in recent years as he refused to fold after falling behind two sets to one. McEnroe kept chipping away, flicking delicate drop shots, leaping for overheads, occasionally tossing in a service winner or ace. He got out of trouble most of the time, but his breaks in the second and final games of the fourth set turned the match around. McEnroe battled through four deuces at 4-all in the 9th game of the 4th set to hold on an overhead (Sanchez had two mini-match points in that game). The crowd stood and screamed and applauded him as if he had just won the match, and for all it mattered he had. Sanchez lost the first point of his next service on a backhand volley that McEnroe sprinted to near the net, and lost the game at 30 with a backhand long after an exhausting rally in which he chased McEnroe’s shots all over the court. Sanchez shook his head in disbelief and a little anger at the final shot, complaining to the umpire that McEnroe had prematurely yelled “yeah” when he thought one of his drop shots was the set winner. Sanchez barely retrieved that ball and kept the rally going for two more shots before losing. The umpire denied Sanchez’s assertion that McEnroe had interfered with his shot. McEnroe now had the momentum and he refused to yield it. In the sixth game of the 5th set, McEnroe broke the final and most crucial time, pumping his fist after a short thrust of a killer backhand volley made it 15/40 and again when Sanchez hit a backhand in the net. “I try what has been working,” Sanchez said. “And it didn’t. Maybe I should have tried something else.” “It was great,” McEnroe said of the noise of 22.000 crowd. “That really gave me a boost.” McEnroe put the match away, giving up only a point in the final game, as Sanchez popped up a return out of bounds on the last point. Pete Sampras, one the young hopefuls in American tennis, is in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his brief career. Sampras upset No. 6 seed Thomas Muster of Austria 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-3 in the fourth round Sunday night (Sampras led 6:3 in the 1st set tie-break, in the 2nd set he was two points away from a two-set disadvantage as he was serving at 5:6, 15/30). The 19-year-old Sampras turned pro in 1988. In his next match, he’ll go up against No. 3 seed Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia, who demolished grinder Gilad Bloom 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 (Bloom in his previous match against Gary Muller, committed just two unforced errors). McEnroe’s next opponent will be David Wheaton, who beat Kevin Curren, 7-5, 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-4. With a pair of unseeded players in the quarterfinals, it’s guaranteed that an unseeded player will be in the semifinals. It hasn’t happened since 1967 when Gene Scott and Jan Leschly made it. “They have good indoor (tennis) facilities there,” Wheaton said about Minnesota where he comes from. “I grew up playing on two (outdoor) public courts down the street.” In the summer, that is. After heading south and polishing his game at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, Wheaton won the 1987 U.S. Open juniors title. After a year at Stanford, he turned pro. Last May, the 6’3 Wheaton won his first pro tournament, the U.S. Clay Court. The field in Charleston, S.C., was not exactly overflowing with Top 10 players. In the final, Wheaton beat Mark Kaplan (now ranked No. 157). At Wimbledon, Wheaton lost in five sets (13-11 in the fifth) to Brad Gilbert in the round of 16. His third-and fourth-round Open victims were veterans Paul Annacone and Kevin Curren. “Beating Curren (in four sets) was a big win for me,” Wheaton said. “He was really playing well this tournament. I don’t think people realize that.” His first meeting with McEnroe will not be Wheaton’s first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Last January, he lost to Stefan Edberg in the Australian Open. Wheaton seems confident he will not be dazed by the crowd affection for McEnroe that peaked with his dramatic five-set round of 16 victory over Sanchez. “I’m more concerned with how I play and how John plays than I am with the crowd,” Wheaton said. “If I play well, I stand a good chance of winning.” While Agassi, Chang and Sampras have been leading the new surge of American men, Wheaton has been lurking just behind. “I’m sort of a secondary candidate,” he said. “I’m definitely not in the Agassi-Chang media class yet, but it doesn’t affect my tennis. I’m not a news hound.” Defending champion Boris Becker survived his first challenge of the tournament with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 round of 16 victory over Australian Darren Cahill. Becker and Cahill know each other. Two years ago, Cahill swept past an injured Becker in the second round of the Open on the way to a semifinal loss to Mats Wilander. Yesterday, Cahill broke Becker’s first two service games in the fourth set, then broke again in the final game. In the last set, Cahill was ahead, 30/0 at 3-all, in the seventh game when he netted a relatively easy backhand drop shot. Cahill then lost the next three points to suffer the only service break of the set. “I played a couple of loose volleys at the wrong time (in the fifth set),” said the 48th-ranked Cahill. “And he served a lot better.” “He (Cahill) was just playing good tennis,” said Becker, who now faces the No. 9 seed, Aaron Krickstein, in a quarterfinal. “I had to find a way and I did it finally.” Becker said he found inspiration by talking to himself “(using) all the words I know in any language.” No. 4 seed Andre Agassi, conspicuously tame after his outburst last week, quietly beat 13th-seeded Jay Berger 7-5, 6-0, 6-2. Agassi was fined $3,000 for his misbehavior in his second-round match with Petr Korda.
Quarterfinals: AP, Ailene Voisin
A star was born in the U.S. Open on Wednesday. Pete Sampras, touted as one of the best young American power hitters in tennis, blasted 24 aces and 27 service winners at up to 120 mph and broke through to the top rank with a 6-4, 7-6(4), 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 victory over 3-time champion Ivan Lendl. Sampras, who was battered badly by Lendl in the third and fourth sets, refused to give up in the final set. He charged back with all the youthful strength he possessed to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. The slim, slope-shouldered 19-year-old from Rancho Palos Verdes, stopped making the backhand errors that plagued him in the sets Lendl won, and poured on the heat on his serve to end Lendl’s streak of eight consecutive appearances in the finals. Lendl was tied for the record with Bill Tilden, who reached the finals every year from 1918-1925. “I don’t believe what’s happening now. It’s a dream come true,” Sampras said after the 4-hour, 5-minute match. “This is what I’ve been working for all summer. This is the reward right now.” Lendl, a physical fitness buff who is among the best 5-set players in tennis, could take some pride in helping Sampras rise to the top echelon of the game. They practiced together for 10 days at Lendl’s house at Greenwich, Conn., a couple of years ago and he gave the youngster crucial tips. “He had me biking 15 or 20 miles a day,” said Sampras, who also got some ideas on diet and match preparation. “We talked a lot and he told me how you have to work to make it. He’s a true professional in every sense of the word. It was ironic. I was thinking about it during the match because he told me you have to train so hard that you can’t walk home. I felt just as fit as he did out there.” In beating Lendl, Sampras displayed the kind of all-around game that has enthralled tennis watchers for several years. He has a strong, smooth forehand, a nice variety of touch volleys, drops and lobs similar to McEnroe, and a serve that has gotten harder and more accurate over the past year. It’s Sampras’ first victory over one of the top-3 ranked players is sure to boost his No. 12 ranking. It also added to his growing list of big-name victims. Last year in the Open, he beat the defending champion, Mats Wilander, and beat John McEnroe in the Canadian Open last month. McEnroe advanced Wednesday night by defeating David Wheaton 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. McEnroe, 31, played like the master of old against Wheaton, a 21-year-old giant with a blazing serve and nothing else that could match the talents of the four-time champion. McEnroe treated Wheaton as if he were a beginner, teasing him with drop-shot volleys, passing him easily, returning thundering serves with a flick of the wrist. The unseeded McEnroe, who hadn’t reached the semifinals here since he was runner-up in 1985, will next take on Sampras. McEnroe’s sweeping serve kept Wheaton off balance, sometimes reaching far out of the court, most of the night, and his brilliant passing shots and volleys intimidated the 6-foot-4 youngster. “He hit some pretty good shots at the beginning and scared me away from the net,” Wheaton said. Boris Becker looked around the National Tennis Center and saw the missing. Ivan Lendl. Stefan Edberg. Brad Gilbert. Andres Gomez. Emilio Sanchez. Andrei Chesnokov. Gone, all of them. By Thursday night, the only top-10 ranked players remaining in the U.S. Open were No. 2 Becker, who defeated Aaron Krickstein 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, and fourth-ranked Andre Agassi, a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 winner over Andrei Cherkasov. Asked if Agassi has changed much since their encounter in March at Indian Wells, Calif., Becker replied, coyly, “He has a beard now, huh?” Uh-uh. Agassi, 15 pounds heavier than a year ago, shed the beard prior to his quarterfinal against Cherkasov, ranked No. 50, in favor of a two-day stubble. “I just woke up one morning and it was all over the pillow,” said Agassi. “No real reason.” Yet while he offered nary a hint about his semifinal attire – Agassi’s wardrobe has rivaled the rise of McEnroe as the hottest stories at the Open – he predicted a long, bruising match Saturday. The longer, he said, the better, and may the stronger man win. Becker? Until the midway point of the second set, he appeared more eager to join Lendl, Edberg, etc., than push toward the semifinals. He chose to stay back and exchange ground-strokes with Krickstein, but was broken in the fourth game when a pair of forehands landed well beyond the baseline. Becker broke back, but again failed to hold serve, this time double-faulting on the final point. Finally, after another errant forehand cost him his service game to open the second set, Becker had one of his person-to-person conversations. “I thought to myself, ‘Now, I have to start to play. I have to try and fight,’ and that’s what I did,” explained the West German. “I try, I keep my mind, and the other other guy knows it.” Becker openly cultivates his reputation as one of the game’s superior big-point, big-game competitors. Krickstein admitted that after losing the ensuing six games, he began to remember when: He lost to Becker in the Davis Cup in 1985, in the Canadian Open in 1986, in Wimbledon in 1989, and in the Open semifinals last year (Becker beat also Noah in New York in 1989 & 1990). Entering Thursday’s match, Krickstein had never taken a set from Becker, much less a match. “I guess that [winning the first set] was progress,” said the 23-year-old from Grosse Point, Mich., “or at least it’s a start. But I really thought I had a chance because he wasn’t playing so well early. I didn’t capitalize, and then he started playing better.” Becker, who won his first Open championship last year, began to hit thunderous serves, drive his shots deeper and approach the net at every glimmer of an opening. He began to play like, well, Becker. “He was playing all the time deep, so I had to wait a lot of time to come in,” said Becker. “but at the end, he had no energy anymore. His legs were tired a little bit, I think. He couldn’t get down to his shots, so I run him too much around, I guess.” That’s exactly what Agassi did in his victory over Cherkasov, and what he plans to do against Becker. After Agassi broke Cherkasov in the third game of the first set, he faltered only briefly near the end of the match. He fired 33 blistering winners from all angles as he moved Cherkasov from side to side, attacked on both serves and overwhelmed the young Soviet.
Semifinals: Mike Deinagro
Andre Agassi, reviled as all-punk and no-spunk, grew up Saturday and relative unknown Pete Sampras ended John McEnroe‘s run in the U.S. Open men’s semifinals at the National Tennis Center’s Stadium Court. Agassi beat defending champion Boris Becker of West Germany, 6-7(10), 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, while Sampras downed McEnroe, a four-time Open champion, 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 before a sellout crowd of 20,826. Agassi called the match the most important of his career. “Maybe this match will do a lot for how people will perceive me, maybe the world will start thinking I can do it,” said the 20-year-old Las Vegas resident. Sampras, who upset Ivan Lendl in the quarterfinals, is stunned by making the final. “This is unbelievable,” said the Palos Verdes resident. “I don’t believe I’m in the finals. I was really nervous for the first couple of games but after the first six games it was like playing another match. I wanted to get it done as soon as possible. The longer the match went on, the more the crowd gets into it and they were for McEnroe. It would have been tough to win in the fifth set.” McEnroe said he was unprepared for the bright, cool weather after playing in hot, humid weather most of the tournament. “I don’t think I played badly,” he said. “His pace put me off a little bit and I got a little anxious and my concentration was not as good. He was serving so big, I wasn’t able to get a groove going.” McEnroe said both Agassi and Sampras deserved to be in the final because they played the best tennis at the Open. Before Saturday, Agassi blew each of the three most important matches of his career:
– The 1989 Italian Open finals, when he had match point against Alberto Mancini in the fourth set and was trampled in the fifth.
– The 1989 Davis Cup, when he led Becker 2-0 in sets and lost three straight.
– The 1990 French Open finals, when he was upset by a then sub-Top 10- ranked Andres Gomez.
Against Becker, though, Agassi, perhaps best known until now for his hot-lime-and-black tennis attire and his left-ear earring, made a statement that finally exceeded fashion. “It was an important match for him,” Becker said. “It proved to everybody that he’s a world class tennis player. I thought I was playing very good tennis, better than in 1989 when I won here, but he (Agassi) played really great tennis,” He paused, lit up in the face, and added: “He hits it in the corners for three hours!” [ The match lasted exactly 3:04 h ] Agassi, beaten embarrassingly at last year’s Open by Lendl, was gracious yet proud, soft-spoken but unshakably confident. “Last year versus Lendl, it just felt much bigger than me,” he said. “You could have given me a set lead and four serves instead of two serves and I still wasn’t wouldn’t have won the match (againt Lendl). I just didn’t feel like I could have. I’ve grown up a little bit.” Agassi and Becker began as power against power as both men hunkered down at the baseline and rocketed ground-strokes at the other’s end. In the first set, Becker fought off two set points to get into a tie-breaker (one at *4:5, one at 5:6), and three more set points in the tie-breaker (4:6, 8:9), which he won, 12/10. It was Agassi’s first tie-break with three changes of ends. The first set took 1 hour and 12 minutes. “There were two ways to look at it,” Agassi said. “That it hurts to come so close and lose or that the set took just as much out of him as it took out of me.” Agassi steeled himself, thinking, he said, “If he’s going to beat me he’s going to have to work for it.” Agassi’s attitude was in sharp contrast to what it was a year ago when Lendl accused him of tanking the match after he fell behind. In the second set Agassi broke Becker’s serve in the third, seventh and ninth games to even the match. In the third set he took the lead, breaking Becker four times. Becker had trouble with his serve because it was windy and his toss kept coming down in unpredictable fashion. But Agassi thought the wind was worse for him and his forehand-to-backhand style of ground-stroke attack. In the fifth game of the fourth set Becker was pressing hard for a go-ahead break. At 30/30 the two players were in the midsts of a good rally when Becker hit an approach deep to Agassi’s backhand and stormed the net. Agassi hit a two-hand cross-court winner past Becker and into the deepest part of the corner of the court. Becker took another step to the net and stared silently at Agassi. “I haven’t see him play like that ever,” Becker said. “That’s the bottom line, I played good and he played great.” As for his chances of winning his first Grand Slam title, Agassi said: “The U.S. Open, in my opinion, is the most prestigious tournament in the world. There’s no question that when I went for a shot today, it was there for me. I feel my chances are good to win it.” Said Sampras: “It’s going to be tough. He’s playing some really good tennis.”
Final: Cris Clarey
Tennis historians will note that Pete Sampras became the youngest man to win the U.S. Open by defeating Andre Agassi at the age of 19 years and 28 days. They will note that Sampras was the first American champion since 1984; that he was a right-hander with a powerful serve; that he was born in Potomac and grew up in Palos Verdes. All this bears remembering. Yet for those who witnessed the 12th-seeded Sampras’ 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 1-hour 42-minute victory yesterday, the most striking thing was not that he made history but how he made it. He was in complete command – this teen-ager playing in his first Grand Slam final. He was composed far beyond his years and far beyond the moment. When Michael Chang won last year’s French Open at 17, the tennis world watched nervously as Chang escaped from one tricky situation after another. But Sampras never gave his audience any reason to squirm. His first serve was an ace, and so was his last. He volleyed superbly and hit his ground strokes boldly – just as he had all tournament. And unlike his hairier, more flamboyant opponent, he never pumped a fist nor let out a shout. Instead, Sampras wore the slightly smug look of the student who takes a test and already knows all the answers. “Today was the best that I could possibly play,” Sampras said. “And it couldn’t have happened at a better time.” The victory was so convincing that Agassi, the 20-year-old from Las Vegas, could not even bring himself to mourn. “Sure, it’s disappointing to see somebody hold the trophy that you wanted,” Agassi said. “But it’s not like I lost it. I got my butt kicked. That’s about it.” Once again, Sampras’ serve, which has been clocked at nearly 125 miles per hour, was the key to victory. Agassi, who has one of the best returns in tennis, never broke him and had only three break-point opportunities. “Pete’s always had a big serve, but he’s put together some really exceptional placement on his serves the last couple of weeks,” Agassi said. “That’s just tough. The chances of returning a serve that’s hit 100 miles per hour and lands on the line are slim. When somebody hits one 120 miles per hour on the line, there’s not much you can do about it.” Sampras hit 100 aces during his two-week run at the National Tennis Center. He hit 13 yesterday, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He also had 17 service winners (Agassi got just 1/2 of Sampras’ points as far as the serve is concerned) and won an astonishing 92 % of the points in which he hit his first serve into play. Faced with that kind of firepower, Agassi could only shrug his shoulders and look over helplessly at his sizable entourage. “I think that when I serve as well as I did this week that it puts something in the minds of my opponents,” Sampras said. “It plants the seed in their mind that if they play one bad game on their serve the set may be over.” Sampras broke Agassi early in each set and four times in all. More surprising still, he held his own against Agassi from the baseline – hitting eleven winners to Agassi’s eight. “There was not much Andre could do,” said Agassi’s coach, Nick Bolletieri. “Pete wasn’t just hitting that serve. He was hitting volleys, hitting ground strokes, hitting everything for winners. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Nor had this tournament. Until Sampras came along, the youngest person to win the national title was Oliver S. Campbell, who did it in 1890 at the age of 19 years, six months and nine days. Until Sampras came along, no man seeded as low as 12th had won this title in the Open era. “It’s just unbelievable,” Sampras said again. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m just going to take the next couple of days and let it settle in and realize what I did this week.” Sampras had won only two titles – both this year – before this tournament: the U.S. Pro Indoors in Philadelphia and a Wimbledon tune-up in Manchester, England. He never had advanced past the fourth round in a Grand Slam event and was upset by South African Christo van Rensburg in the first round of this year’s Wimbledon. But the Open is not on grass. It is on a hardcourt – the same kind Sampras grew up playing on in Southern California. And for the last two weeks, he made this surface his private domain. The $350,000 he received for winning yesterday nearly doubled his earnings for the year. But there was no question that he earned it. This was a tournament filled with upsets, yet Sampras was not the beneficiary. He had to beat No. 6 seed Thomas Muster in the fourth round, three-time champion and No. 3 Ivan Lendl in the quarterfinals and four-time champion John McEnroe in the semifinals. Only Lendl extended Sampras to five sets. “It would have seemed crazy in January,” he said. “But I think that I deserve it. I worked really hard to do well here. I had a pretty good summer.” As for Agassi, he must keep waiting for his first Grand Slam title. He shook some of his reputation for failing in important matches by beating No. 2 seed Boris Becker in the semifinals. But after yesterday, he is 0-2 in Grand Slam finals. “I don’t feel that I have to prove anything as much as I just want to do it,” said Agassi, who lost to Andres Gomez in the final of this year’s French Open. “A lot of people out there want to see me do it, and maybe there are a lot of people that don’t believe I can. But it’s coming around. I’m getting closer every time.” Sampras, of course, does not have to worry about getting closer. He is ahead of schedule and into the history books. It was Agassi’s 67th main-level tournament, Sampras’ 45th. Stats of the final