1992 – 1993, US Open
U.S. Open, New York
August 31, 1992; 128 Draw (16 seeds) – $3,566,400; Surface – Hard
I’d say the most intriguing major of the Open era in regard of different aspects, you’ve got it all: 16 past and future Grand Slam/Olympic/Masters champions, from Jimmy Connors (b. 1952) to Alex Corretja (b. 1974); two longest matches in the history of the tournament, played between the top guys; and a dead tired champion (Stefan Edberg) who prevailed three consecutive marathons (4:20, 4:03, 5:26) against Top 20 players, coming back from a break down in the deciding sets each time; he then needed almost 3 hours to beat in four sets the best player of the 90s decade – Pete Sampras, coming back from a break down in the crucial third set!!! Moreover, worth mentioning are two consecutive Brad Gilbert’s wins in 5th set tie-breaks from match points down in the deciders – something like this hasn’t happened in New York ever since, and the tightest Grand Slam match between brothers (Emilio & Javier Sanchez). For two American legends, 4-time champions of this tournament – 40-year-old Connors and seven years younger John McEnroe, it was the last Grand Slam event. In turn 3-time champion, Ivan Lendl played his last quarterfinal at majors.
First round: Steve Wilstein, Jim Sarni
Two aces beat the ‘wild card’ as top pro Jim Courier barely edged top collegian Alex O’Brien at the U.S. Open on Monday night in a four-set showdown. For most of the 3-hour, 18-minute match finished at 12:01 a.m., there was little difference between them except Courier’s cap. The same age, the same size and similar in style, Courier came from the school of hard ground-strokes, and O’Brien from Stanford to meet before 20,000 fans in a packed stadium. Courier avoided becoming only the third top-seeded man to lose in the first round at the Open since 1950, beating O’Brien, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 7-6(5) erasing a 2:4 deficit in the 4th set, on the strength of a few harder shots and two aces in the tiebreaker. The first ace, which drew a look of disbelief from O’Brien, gave Courier quadruple match point. O’Brien fought off three of them, but Courier closed it out with his 16th ace of the match. O’Brien, ranked No. 185, came in as a wild card after winning the NCAA championship. He and Courier, a finalist here last year and a double Grand Slam winner this year, share the same coach and manager. “I had no idea what he’s ranked,” Courier said. “He’s a better player than that.” Courier recalled playing O’Brien often in juniors as young teens. “We’d play on the baseline, run each other ragged,” Courier said. No. 5 Goran Ivanisevic avenged an Olympic semifinal defeat to Marc Rosset, defeating the Swiss 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. “I mean crazy. I don’t mean crazy like crazy, I mean crazy nice way. You know… different.” – Goran Ivanisevic, explaining what he meant when he said he was “walking like a crazy man.” Andre Agassi was the most surprised person in the house when he lost to Aaron Krickstein in the first round of the U.S. Open last year. ”I was looking at the semifinals or finals of Grand Slam tournaments, so it was weird to really see me get beat early,” Agassi said. ”I got what I basically deserved that day, not being ready.” Agassi was primed Tuesday, and he punished Mikael Pernfors 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 in his opening match. ”Last year illustrated to me quite clearly that you can’t be one hair off your game and expect to come in here and survive these first few matches,” said Agassi, who is seeded eighth. ”Sometimes those are the toughest here at the Open.” Three former U.S. Open champions – John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Boris Becker – also came out of the blocks fast. McEnroe , a four-time champion, crushed Michael Schapers 6-4, 6-0, 6-4 Tuesday night. In the afternoon, Sampras , the 1990 champion, smashed Notre Dame All-America David DiLucia 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. Becker , the 1989 champion, downed Kevin Curren 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, whom beat in his first major final. Curren  had played his last major match at the US Open ’92, he appeared just once more – Durban ’93. Carlos Costa  of Spain, playing his first U.S. Open, turned back Christo van Rensburg 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. Pernfors, 29, has regressed from 1986 French Open finalist to a ’92 U.S. Open qualifier, but the former University of Georgia All-America has been around for eight Opens, and he wasn’t afraid of Agassi. ”If there’s one person who knows how to make the most of his game and the opportunities he sees, it’s Mikael,” Agassi said. ”I knew that I had to stay focused to put him away. I knew there was no messing around. He has been around too long. It was nice to get through this one; it allows you to breathe easier.” Agassi is breathing easy since he won Wimbledon, finally proving that he is a champion as well as a celebrity. The crown feels great, no weight at all. ”There are times when winning a Grand Slam adds a lot of pressure,” Agassi said. ”When Chang won the French, when Sampras won here, when Courier won the French – they hadn’t done a lot, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, they were winning a Grand Slam. I don’t think that is easy to carry. You have to prove to people and yourself that you deserve it.” Most of the seats were empty for Ivan Lendl‘s match Wednesday, which, he says, is exactly how he likes it. “I like to see a lot of empty seats here,” he said. “I get home earlier. It is good.” No one could tell if Lendl was serious when he said this, because the Czech-born tennis star is not one to smile or grunt or hurl his racket to the ground. He gives little of himself away. For that kind of thing people packed into the nearby grandstand, more intrigued by John McEnroe’s doubles match than the sight of Lendl, one of the U.S. Open’s greatest champions, flirting with catastrophe. It is 1992, and Lendl is the Open’s forgotten champion. Maybe a thousand people watched him survive a scare from Peru’s Jaime Yzaga before winning, 6-7(2), 6-1, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in 4 hours 23 minutes. He has won three Open titles. He is just a year younger than McEnroe’s 33, has won more singles titles, more grand slams and more money. Yet, he is not considered a sentimental favorite here. In fact, he is rarely considered at all. “I like it that way,” he said. Much attention is being lavished on McEnroe and the 40-year-old Jimmy Connors and 35-year-old Martina Navratilova. They are the honored oldsters. When Lendl plays Connors in the second round, the crowd will be with Jimbo. Lendl doesn’t mind. “I feel fine,” he said. “Don’t worry about me.” Wednesday, the milling fans here worried more about defending champion Stefan Edberg, who beat Brazil’s Luiz Mattar, 7-5, 7-5, 6-2, and Michael Chang, who defeated Ellis Ferreira, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(1). Wednesday afternoon, the 14th-seeded MaliVai Washington got a little payback, fighting off 10 break points to beat Francisco Montana, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3, and confirm his current status as one of the tour’s hottest players. “You know, I thought about that when I first saw I was going to play him, and it crossed my mind again when I saw him a couple days ago,” said Washington, who was at the University of Michigan when Montana beat him as a player from the University of Georgia. “But I never thought about it on the court. I just played to win. I wasn’t playing for revenge.” Traffic was twice as bad, lines were twice as long and fans without U.S. Open tickets stood outside searching for scalpers so they could glimpse the 40-year-old sensation. The night crowd waited not so patiently as the day matches went long. When they were finally let in the gates, fans gave Jimmy Connors a standing ovation almost 10 minutes before he entered the Stadium Court. Rounds of “Happy Birthday to You” were sung off-key with one section trying to outdo the other. The excitement never died. In his usual manner, somewhere between a comedian and a clown, an acrobat and an athlete, Connors dazzled the crowd while surging to a seemingly simple rout of Brazilian Jaime Oncins 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. For Oncins, it was his second first-round loss in two attempts at Flushing Meadow. For Connors, it was his 18th first-round win in 20 attempts, five of which ended in championships. Connors controlled the match from the beginning, breaking Oncins’ second serve to go up 3:1. He repeated the effort on his next attempt to take a 5:1 lead. In between, he served in excess of 100 mph, got to a lot of shots a 40-year-old body shouldn’t have reached, went for winners and, of course, stopped several times for comments to the crowd. Oncins was playing at less than 100 percent after scraping his right hand and needing an injury timeout to be taped after first five games. The injury continued to hinder him as Connors broke his first and second serves to take a 3:0 lead in the 2nd set. Oncins’ only other accomplishment was breaking Connors at 5:3 in the 3rd set.
Second round: Richard Finn
Andre Agassi followed the sun to the U.S. Open today and easily moved into the third round of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. The Wimbledon champion and No. 8 seed at Flushing Meadow needed only 1 hour, 32 minutes to crush Francisco Roig of Spain 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 and advance into the third round to meet Jan Siemerink of the Netherlands. Unlike yesterday, when play was interrupted several times by rain, sun greeted the players today. All of the seeded players were victorious. No. 4 seed Michael Chang beat Patrick McEnroe 6-3, 6-3, 6-4; No. 5 Goran Ivanisevic downed Mexico’s Leonardo Lavalle 7-5, 7-6(7), 6-2; Carlos Costa ousted Germany’s Alexander Mronz 6-3, 6-1, 6-2, and No. 13 Guy Forget of France beat Sweden’s Magnus Larsson 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(10), 6-0. Last year, Jim Courier‘s friend Pete Sampras came to the Open as defending champion. After losing to Courier in the quarterfinals, Sampras reflected on the increased pressure and attention created by his title, saying “the monkey is off my back.” Courier, top-ranked in the world and top-seeded at the Open, has had no such struggle with fame or pressure. The monkey on his back was that he couldn’t beat Andrei Chesnokov in five career meetings entering their second-round showdown. The streak reached five matches and one set before Courier broke through for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 romp Thursday. Chesnokov, ranked 40th in the world after a year of injuries, seemed to think it was significant that in those first four matches Courier was the lower-ranked player. “He’s No. 1 now and has a lot of confidence.” The fifth time they met, at Indian Wells, in March, Chesnokov played exceptionally well and also beat Stich before losing the final to Chang. “I don’t think ranking gets into the match,” Courier said. “It’s not like you wake up in the morning and go, ‘Ah, I’m No. 1.’ It’s not something you can reach out and grab. It’s in the back of your mind, but winning a tournament or winning a match is something that you can say, ‘On this day, I have done it.’ The ranking is a 52-week process.” John McEnroe overcame a rash of complaints to the umpire and even a ball-boy before beating Diego Nargiso 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. For the second straight year, Todd Martin has advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. Martin, 22, scored a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 second-round victory over Patrik Kuhnen Friday. He will play Saturday night third-seeded Pete Sampras, who easily outplayed Martin Damm 7-5, 6-1, 6-2. “Ever since I won my first match the thought had crossed my mind that if I won another match I could play Sampras in the stadium,” said Martin of his 7:30 p.m. showdown against the former U.S. Open champion at the National Tennis Center. “It’s a chance to play your best tennis because you usually play to the level of your opponent. I think if Sampras plays his best tennis, he is the best player in the world.” Sampras, though, is not taking anything for granted. “He’s a tall guy and he hits very solid from the backcourt,” he said of Martin. “He’s got a pretty good all-around court game. It’s a match where I am definitely going to have to play well, so it will be a good test.” Martin had a good test against Kuhnen, a veteran German Davis Cup player. In each set, he was down a service break. But Martin was able to charge back to win. “The progress I showed today was mentally,” said Martin. “I didn’t hit the ball great and didn’t hit a lot of great shots, but when I had to, I made him hit great shots and he wasn’t always up to that.” The last game typified the match. After breaking serve for a 5:4 lead, Martin jumped to a 30/0 lead with two strong service points. Kuhnen ripped a forehand winner before Martin missed a forehand for 30/30. Jimmy Connors tried to conjure up his U.S. Open magic one more time, give his fans one more grand memory to cherish, yet none of his fist-pumping antics fazed imperturbable Ivan Lendl in the slightest. Lendl, ever the cool professional, didn’t get rattled when Connors won the 1st set Friday night, didn’t get unnerved by the whistles and boos of 20,000 enemies in the crowd and the incessant cheers for Connors. Lendl simply pounded his ground-strokes past Connors as he had in 16 straight victories over him coming in, aced him a dozen times and kept up the pressure until the end of a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 victory. Connors fought as much as his body would allow, then exited laughing from his 22nd Open, bantering with fans and blowing kisses to the crowd as it chanted, ‘Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy.’ “I guess it’s hell being 40,” Connors said. If Lendl didn’t play as well as he once did, if he didn’t move quite so quickly, no one could tell by the score in this second-round match. In one stretch, after 3:3 in the 2nd set, Lendl won seven straight games and took 28 of 34 points. “The first set was the best he’s played against me in a long time,” Lendl said. “He wasn’t making any errors.” Connors had an incredible 88-1 match record when he won the first set – his only loss was to Guillermo Vilas in 1977 – but this time he couldn’t sustain his lead. Stefan Edberg beat Jakob Hlasek 7-5, 6-2, 6-1; and Boris Becker defeated Robbie Weiss 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-0 on Court 16. Weiss retired in the 4th set. “I played a junior match on the same court in 1984,” Becker recalled, “It was very noisy, and it took awhile to get used to it. I’ve only played on the stadium and grandstand here before. I calmed down and loosened up a little bit and started to play the way I can.” Richard Krajicek rallied from two sets down – 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 over Gabriel Markus – for the first time in his career.
Third round: Steve Wilstein, Diane Pucin
Brad Gilbert made an amazing feat winning second straight match 7/0 in the 5th set tie-break after saving match points: in the second round he upset 11th seeded Michael Stich 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 [3:48 hours, 3 MPs], then eliminated Tommy Ho 6-1, 6-7, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 [3:45 hours, 2 MPs]. Gilbert explained: “I think I’m too tired not to be relaxed. But, you know, I feel like if I stayed positive, and just keep the ball in play that, you know, a lot of times people can get nervous and you know, in this situation. So it was best to keep a lot of balls in play when it’s in the tiebreaker, but if you are playing against somebody that is giving you a lot of heat or taking it to you, it is difficult. I feel it is best for me – you know, in a situation like, to keep a lot of balls in play and make the other guy win it.” Ho admitted: ”I don’t think I could have done anything different, except make that volley on second match point.” He served for the match at 6:5 and had double match point at 40/15. He missed a forehand long on the first match point. Third-seeded Pete Sampras, 1990 Open champion and former Rancho Palos Verdes resident, almost tumbled out in the third round Saturday night, but survived a serious scare against No. 93 Todd Martin to win 7-6(1), 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in over 3 1/2 hours of scintillating tennis. Sampras, the hottest player lately with titles in three (Kitzbuhel, Cincinnati, Indianapolis) of his last four tournaments, got frozen at the net time after time by Martin’s crafty lobs as the third-year pro won nine straight games between 2-all in the 2nd set and 5:0* in the 3rd. Sampras broke twice and was serving at 30/15 to level at 5-games apiece, but Martin won three straight points converting third set point! The underdog came within a game of winning at 5:4* in the 4th set. But Sampras held at love with an ace, broke Martin with a backhand pass down the line and closed out the set at love. Martin broke for a 2:0 (40/30) lead in the 5th set, lobbing once again at 15/40 and watching Sampras plunk the ball into the net. Sampras dug in, broke back with a backhand pass that clipped the net and jumped over Martin’s racket. Sampras broke again to 3:2 and led 5:3 when Martin saved the first of four match points with an ace. After Martin held, Sampras closed it out with a service winner. “I started out playing very tight,” Sampras said. “I’ve been playing well all summer, but I came out a little flat. But I found a way to win, and that’s what you have to do. It was a very strange match.” Martin said he “learned I can play with the best. It’s disappointing, but I have to be proud because I gave myself the chance to win. I knew I was in it the whole time, I knew I was a few shots, a few points away from winning.” At the end, though, he acknowledged, “my legs were like noodles. I had no bearings about me.” Next up on the same court, Goran Ivanisevic, the fifth seed and runner-up in a thrilling Wimbledon championship match, played sick, tired and sapped of strength in a 6-4, 6-0, 6-3 loss to Alexander Volkov. Ivanisevic couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him, ticking off such possibilities as a virus, too much tennis, an aversion to American food, the city air. “Here food is not good. If you eat those McDonald’s cheeseburgers, hamburgers, you go to the hospital forever,” the Croatian complained in his deep, deadpan voice. “I went to some Italian restaurant, but I don’t know. Probably the air, something is wrong.” He complained about the food in London, too, but that didn’t stop him from serving 206 aces and pushing Agassi to five sets with 37 in the final. Ivanisevic had only 9 against Volkov, served 33 in his three matches. “I was playing without any energy. My legs felt very heavy. I couldn’t run,” said Ivanisevic, who was given rehydration fluids on the court during the match. Andre Agassi, No. 8, had no such problems on the stadium court, easily overpowering Jan Siemerink 6-2, 6-3, 6-3, and next faces No. 10 Carlos Costa, a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 victor over Omar Camporese. Agassi will beat Siemerink in straight sets also in their third round encounter in New York four years later. Jim Courier, the top seed and winner of two Grand Slam events this year, had a tough time beating No. 60 Cedric Pioline 7-6(2), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. John McEnroe, meanwhile, cruised to a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Richard Fromberg. Michael Chang can’t help it if no one notices him and his pound, pound, pounding tennis game. He is going to stand on the baseline and whack away at his ground-strokes, and if it takes five hours and is as interesting as watching grass grow or paint dry and if those are cliches, well, Chang appreciates those, too, because he tends to talk in cliches, well-meaning cliches, like, “Well, you got to get there before you can go on.” That’s what Chang said yesterday about advancing to the fourth round. Chang was very serious. To him, this is all serious stuff and, well, doesn’t it make sense? He can’t play in the quarterfinals if he doesn’t get out of the fourth round. That’s how it goes in tennis, and that’s how Chang will explain it. It was with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 victory against Arnaud Boetsch of France that Chang moved out of the third round and into the fourth. It made Chang, seeded fourth, one of seven men’s seeds to win. No. 2 seed and defending champion Stefan Edberg has not found even a little challenge here yet, and it was fellow Swede Jonas Svensson who was the quick victim yesterday, losing, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. No. 7 seed Boris Becker faced a fellow German, Carl-Uwe Steeb and, true to his form here, struggled and finally won, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3. No. 9 seed Ivan Lendl also dropped a set but recovered to beat wild card Chuck Adams, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4; No. 12 seed Wayne Ferreira of South Africa was not pushed in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory against Wally Masur; and hard-hitting Richard Krajicek, the No. 15 seed from Holland, subdued another Australian, Mark Woodforde, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. Spain’s Emilio Sanchez  beat  Javier Sanchez, 5-7, 6-1, 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-4 in 3 hours 20 minutes. Older brother Emilio, 27, has beaten 24-year-old Javier in all eight meetings – their last before the U.S. Open in Kitzbuhel, Austria, in 1989. Javier wasn’t as close as in New York to beat his older brother in those eight meetings. Emilo survived a dramatic 5-setter in the first round as well, when he fought off a match point to overcome  Petr Korda 6-2, 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(4). MaliVai Washington came back from a rain delay the previous night and needed only five minutes and two games to finish off Henri Leconte, 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-3.
Fourth round: Jerry Macgee, Michael Silverman
Defending champion Stefan Edberg edged into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open today by holding off his Netherlands nemesis, Richard Krajicek, in a five-set, 4-hour and 20-minute struggle. Scores of the fourth-round match, played before a crowd of 20,831 at the National Tennis Center, were 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Edberg’s victory was his first after two defeats to Krajicek – in New Haven on a hard surface in 1991, and in Tokyo this year, again on a hard court. Winning, allowed the Swede to play a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the 19th time in career (fourth in New York). The Edberg-Krajicek match was a surging affair in which first the Open champion, then young Krajicek (20) appeared to have the advantage. Edberg might have won in straight sets but for some uncertain volleying in the 2nd-set tie-break. Here, Edberg was serving in the tie-break with a 6:4 lead, but he netted a backhand volley. Krajicek then won his two service points for a 7:6 advantage, and he won the set on the next point on another Edberg volleying error. Krajicek owns one of the biggest serves in men’s tennis, but his returns served him better today than his serve. After falling behind a break in the 4th set, Krajicek immediately broke back to even matters, 3:3, then broke Edberg again on his next service to position himself to run out the set. In the final set, a third consecutive Krajicek break gave him a 1:0 lead. The match turned in the 6th game, with Krajicek serving at 3:2, 30/40. Edberg lobbed back the Dutchman’s delivery. Krajicek chose not to play the ball, and it fell in the court to make it 3-all. A half-volley that Edberg angled put the serving Krajicek on break point/match point at 4:5. When he netted a forehand volley, Edberg came through safely. Before this year, Krajicek had not won a match in the U.S. Open. He extended Lendl to five sets in the first round here in 1991. Jim Courier dealt John McEnroe a 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(1) defeat in what may have marked the end of McEnroe’s 17-year association with the U.S. Open. After his fourth-round loss before 19,491 at the National Tennis Center, McEnroe questioned whether he will compete again in an event he has won four times. “No one can say for sure,” he said, “but this is a pretty clear indication that the top guys are clearly a step ahead of me, and it is not really a difficult decision.” McEnroe’s ouster came during an afternoon and evening that proceeded formfully. Joining Courier, the No. 1 seed, in the quarterfinals were No. 8 Andre Agassi and unseeded Alexander Volkov. Agassi hammered Carlos Costa 6-4, 6-3, 6-2; and Volkov held off Brad Gilbert 6-2, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(5). Pete Sampras avenged the most painful defeat of his career by rallying past Guy Forget, 6-3, 1-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 after 3 hours 9 minutes. Forget had won their previous three meetings, including a four-set victory in last year’s Davis Cup title match that gave France a 3-1 win over the United States. “Everybody knows about the final in Lyon, which was very disappointing,” Sampras said. “This match was very important to me, as far as the whole experience goes from last year. It was something that really bothered me for the next two, three months.” It took 5 hours and 1 minute (the longest US Open match in history at the time) for the dust to settle, but once it did, Ivan Lendl was still standing. Lendl walked off the U.S. Open stadium court last night a fourth-round winner over Boris Becker, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 ended at 12:46 a.m. Lendl, 32, fought back throughout, battling fatigue, bad line calls and a feisty 24-year-old Becker to win what was believed to be the longest match at the Open since the 1988 final between Mats Wilander and Lendl, which lasted 4 hours and 55 minutes. “When you lose a couple of tiebreakers you have to keep trying,” said Lendl, who’ll meet Edberg in a quarterfinal tomorrow. “That is the only way. I finally made some break points when I had to and that turned it around.” The two had met before. Nineteen times, in fact, with five of those matches in the semis or finals of Grand Slam events. Becker is unbeaten in those five meetings, but now the overall slate is even at 10-10 and Lendl has his first victory over Becker in a Grand Slam. “It was a hard struggle for both players, and I guess I came out so many times on top against him in a close match, and you know, sometimes the dice are not falling for you,” said Becker. “I have to take it like that. On some days you are meant to win and some days meant to lose.” The 1st set went to a tiebreaker, which Becker won with a 108-mph ace. The right-handed Lendl favored his forehand throughout, and Becker kept him pinned in his left corner, peppering him with deep volleys. Becker also met with success by charging the net, breaking Lendl in the 2nd set for the second and last time (first in the opening game of the match), by withstanding a three-shot barrage from Lendl before chipping in the winner. The 3rd set ended in another tiebreaker, this one highlighted by a call reversal in Lendl’s favor. It left Becker apoplectic, but he replayed the point by serving an ace, one of three in the series. He emerged up, and Lendl left the tiebreaker fuming. Lendl regained his composure and some momentum in the 4th set. He gained a 4:1 lead, and Becker did little to stop him. In the 5th set, Lendl got the service break to go up 4:3, and it was Lendl who closed out the match, one last pass whizzing by a desperate Becker. “Probably when I wake up, then the pain is going to start,” Becker said. “I gave everything I had. It was two men battling for five hours, and one had to lose.”As Becker and Lendl played out Chapter 20 of their duel, MaliVai Washington was making a valiant effort to topple No. 4 seed Michael Chang. But the No. 14 player, who many feel is on the verge of making a move to the top of the men’s ranks, fell short, 6-2, 2-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. Washington committed more than his share of unforced errors – 77 to 59 for Chang – and could not draw an ace, a deadly combination. “He was just more consistent than I was,” Washington said. Chang, who had 11 break points, was just thankful that the match was over. “I dodged a few bullets tonight,” he said. Tomorrow Chang meets Wayne Ferreira, a 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 winner over Emilio Sanchez.
Quarterfinals: Michael Silverman
Zen master Andre Agassi met his maker last night, falling to Jim Courier 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-4 in much more longer match than the scoreline would suggest (3 hours 47 minutes). Both players slugged it out from baseline to baseline but Courier played the finer game, cracking 22 aces, including three in the final game. The eagerly anticipated match featured all the sound and fury one could expect or even want, with both players venting their assorted frustrations. As expected – though not by his biggest fan, Barbra Streisand – Agassi made the loudest explosion. The fireworks began in the 3rd game of the 2nd set. After Courier broke Agassi to cut the margin to 2:1, Agassi threw a tizzy and his racket, the latter bouncing off his chair and nearly hitting the technicians sitting below the chair umpire. The ump, skipping a warning, issued a code violation for racket abuse, which truly ticked off Agassi. He pleaded the intricacies of why he did not deserve the call before screaming several strong obscenities into the towel he held to his mouth. His game fell apart for the next three games until, down 4:2, he regained his head and gained a 5:4 lead. The set then moved to a tiebreaker and Courier appeared to be on cruise control, going up 6:3, for triple set point. But Courier missed a gimme at the net to make it 6:4 and at 6:5, Agassi rushed to the net to make a drop shot that Courier had no chance at. He then combined a winner and a Courier error to pull out an amazing 8/6 win for the set. The 3rd set was a quieter affair. Courier dominated, breaking Agassi twice. Agassi was saving his energy for the 4th set, in which he went up 4:3 (40/0). But Agassi blew three break points in the next game and Courier broke him in the 9th before finishing him off with three unreturned serves. This was the 10th time the two had met and Courier raised his mark to 6-4. Their only previous meeting this year had been Courier’s straight-set semifinal victory at the French Open, which Courier went on to win. Courier’s win cleared the way for a Saturday semifinal showdown against Pete Sampras, a 6-4, 6-1, 6-0 victor yesterday over Alexander Volkov, who showed up in body only. “I was a bit surprised he kind of packed it in,” the 1990 Open champion said. “But I will take it.” Volkov started off fine, breaking Sampras in game 3 of the 1st set. But Sampras broke him back in a long game 6, and did it again in the 10th game to win the set. In the 2nd game of the 2nd set, Sampras broke Volkov, killing the Russian’s will at the same time. Volkov, who did not make himself available for interviews after the match, simply tanked it from there on in, playing listlessly and refusing to move more than a step for most balls. In the 3rd set, he resumed non-playing, netting easy shots, not budging an inch on mediocre Sampras serves, and, on match point, returning an easy shot as high as he could, allowing Sampras to slam it, and him, home. “Maybe it was the heat that got to him, maybe he just got a little bit frustrated out there, but you know, he is a very streaky player,” Sampras said. “He can play two great sets and lose it. But I was a little bit surprised.” Volkov will take a revenge on Sampras six months later, beating the American 7-5, 6-4 in Indian Wells. Michael Chang left his footprints in the red clay at Roland Garros in 1989. He was the youngest French Open champion and the first of the new breed of Americans to make his mark in the Grand Slams. He has been waiting three years for an encore, and now he might have his stage. The 20-year-old Chang reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open on Thursday with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1 victory over Wayne Ferreira, his best Grand Slam showing since his French Open victory. Chang completed his second straight five-set victory, outlasting the 12th-seeded South African in a battle of the two youngest quarter-finalists. “This has been my best year, but I haven’t had great Grand Slam results this year, so this is important to me, getting to the semifinals,” said Chang, seeded fourth. Ferreira had his strained left thigh wrapped at 3:2 in the 4th set but managed to win the set in a tiebreaker, evening the match. But as he did against Washington, Chang rolled in the 5th. He broke for a 2:0 lead, then broke again for 5:1 and served it out. “I tried to keep out of mind that he was injured and just play my game,” Chang said. “He played well in the fourth set and deserved to win it, even if he was hurt. In the fifth he got tired.” “It got worse and worse as the match went on,” Ferreira said. “When it was strapped up, that took the pressure off, and it was OK to play with it. I’ve played through a lot of pain worse that that.” Chang is 12-4 in career five-setters. “It’s not wanting to lose,” said Chang, who was beaten in five-setters at the Australian Open (by Krajicek) and French Open (by Nicklas Kulti) this year. “Chang will die before he loses,” Ferriera said. “I have a mental block with five-setters. I’ve only played five and lost three of them 6-1. After I lost my serve, I was down.” Ferreira improved his mentality in 5-setters and finished career with very respectable 27-12 record. He committed an amazing 104 unforced errors and hit 62 winners. Chang made 45 unforced errors. “If I’d hit the ball up the middle or to the side with no pace, he is going to run down everything,” Ferreira said. “If you play a guy like him, you have to go for a lot. You’ve got to expect to miss a lot of balls. On the other hand, you have got to put a lot of pressure on him, try to get to the net.” Minutes after the Chang-Ferreira match ended, the second deluge of the day drenched the stadium and forced the suspension of the Stefan Edberg–Ivan Lendl match. It was getting crazy when the rain hit. Lendl had saved triple match point and then broken the defending champion for a 6:5 lead in the 4th set (Lendl saved also fourth ad-MP). Edberg, who led two-sets-to-one when the delay hit, dropped the set 5-7 when play resumed. After Edberg took a 2:1 lead in the 5th set, rain again suspended the match. “The fourth set last night was very exciting,” said Edberg, the second seed and only non-American left among the men. “He pulled it out. I don’t know how. I just laughed about it. I tried to look at it in a positive way.” Edberg, whose victory assured that the top four seeds would make the semis, had a 2:1 lead in the 5th set when play resumed Friday. Fifty minutes later, the longtime rivals were in their tiebreaker. Edberg took it by scoring the last four points. Then, restoring a forgotten tradition from tennis’ past, Edberg jumped the net and put his arm around Lendl. “Ivan has played his best tennis,” Edberg said. “It’ll be impossible for him to get back to his level of 1985 and 1986. You play your best tennis in your mid-20s, and he’s 32. You can still play good tennis in your 30s, but you’re not as consistent. That’s the way it is.” Lendl had his chances to win the match anyway. He had three game points leading 4:3 in the 5th set and a mini-match point at 4-all. The final score of that 4-hour, 3-minute quarterfinal: 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6(3) – Edberg had a double break point at 3-all in the 3rd set, then it’d seemed that exactly the same scoreline of their US Open ’91 semifinal would have occurred, when Edberg won 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
Semifinals: Robin Finn
Pete Sampras rushed away from his semifinal match without comment, doubled up from the pain of dehydration-induced stomach cramps, but he didn’t exit the night-chilled Stadium Court until he had deposed the world’s No. 1 player, Jim Courier, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. This 1992 Open finale won’t only decide the owner of the year’s fourth and Grand Slam title, but will anoint a new No. 1 player in the world. Both Stefan Edberg, who hasn’t been shy about his desire to reclaim the top spot he first lost to Courier in February, and Sampras, who has maintained an “if Jim can do it, I can do it” attitude toward the computer ranking, are candidates. “C’est la vie,” said Courier, the two-time French Open champion, in response to that daunting information. Courier also failed to follow the example set by top-ranked Monica Seles, who collected her third Grand Slam title of 1992 yesterday, and add this Open to his 1992 Australian and French Open laurels. While Sampras simply overwhelmed Courier, who later panned his performance as “probably the worst tennis I’ve ever played in a big match,” neither Edberg nor fourth-seeded Michael Chang, that master of the marathon, could find an easy resolution to their record-setting semifinal confrontation. “I’m fighting for my life out there,” was Edberg’s most vivid recollection of the third consecutive Open match in which he needed to overcome a fifth-set deficit to prolong his title defense. But 5 hours and 26 minutes after Chang, who hadn’t gotten this far at a Grand Slam since he captured the 1989 French Open, and Edberg squared off in relatively friendly fashion, both trudged out of the stadium like a pair of lost souls. Fatigue, said Edberg, the exhausted winner by a slender 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-4 margin (23 breaks of serve!), can blur the difference between the conqueror and the vanquished. The difference between Sampras and Courier was more pronounced: Sampras, the 1990 U.S. Open champion, not only avenged his quarterfinal loss to Courier here last year but extended his domination in their career rivalry to 6-1. Courier, although he insisted that he “beat himself,” also admitted that Sampras’s serve was an unscalable wall last night while his own was decidedly porous. Sampras, ranked a career-high third in the world, out-aced his contemporary by 11-6 and converted 7 of 10 break points while Courier, although he earned 11, followed through on just 2 of them. Sampras stormed off to a 5:1* lead in the 1st set and broke Courier to pocket it. He then was broken himself in the 7th and 9th games of the 2nd set. Sampras crunched Courier again in the 3rd, and although stomach cramps rendered him nearly immobile in the final games of the 4th set, he converted his third match point with a forehand blast to the corner. “Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t,” Courier said of his disastrous timing. Time was the star performer of yesterday’s other semifinal. “I had chances, he had chances – it was just incredible – but now there’s only one match to go,” said Edberg, 10-6 in Grand Slam semifinals and positioned to prevent a sweep of the four Grand Slams by Americans – Courier’s two and Andre Agassi’s victory at Wimbledon. The Sampras-Edberg rivalry is dead even at 2-2. “It was sort of a tough match again, mentally,” said Edberg, who waited until the end of his match against Chang to prove himself the stronger contender. “He had me down *0:3, 15/40, and then the momentum changed.” According to Chang, who ventured to the net just 70 times as opposed to 254 trips by Edberg, this was a match between contrasting stylists where fitness and attitude merged, in the end, with the one-dimensional thinking that makes champions want to stay that way. Chang had defeated Edberg in Paris final to earn his one Grand Slam title. Yesterday Chang’s five-set record slipped to 12-5, while Edberg improved his to 23-14. Edberg prevailed despite double-faulting 18 times (9 aces) and winning a meager 51 percent of his first serves. He accumulated 67 unforced errors, while the careful Chang committed just 39 mistakes over the course of the longest match in the history of the tournament. Edberg was a player without a serve in the opening set, for him the equivalent of taking to the court half-dressed. But this bizarre circumstance did not exactly make an aggressor of Chang, who needed eight set points before he finally claimed ownership of the tie breaker (the American already lead 5:2* in the 1st set). Edberg made an impressive recovery in the 2nd set, and crashed ahead to a *4:0 lead. But serving for the set at 5:3, Edberg was broken at love. Then Chang saved a set point in the 10th game by jamming a serve tight to Edberg’s midriff. Edberg eventually evened the match at one set apiece with a high backhand volley winner and worked his way to a 5:2* lead in the 3rd set. Serving for the set at 5:3, he was broken by Chang, who then initiated another tie breaker. This time, Edberg took full control. An ace and backhand winner gave him a 6:0 lead. But Chang opted to treat his plight as surmountable. He had cut the deficit to 6:3* with two tremendous backhand passing-shots, when Edberg provoked a rare backhand error by Chang to finally go up two sets to one. Eventually Edberg took the set on seventh set point. In the 4th set Chang led *5:3, but again, for the fourth time the players had been caught at 5-all before Chang won five games in a row. The match was 4:23 old when the final set began. Chang jumped off to a 3:0 lead and had two break points. But Edberg saved them, held for, then broke Chang (had two game points) for 2:3 on his third break point. “I knew it would be a dogfight, even if I was up a break,” said Chang, who is 4-11 against Edberg. “If I don’t get my first serve in, Stefan has a good chance of breaking me.” Chang broke back after a ‘deuce’ game for 4:2 but lost his serve at love. Edberg held for 4-all at 15, then broke Chang at love for 5:4. The match, at last, was on Edberg’s racket. Edberg served and volleyed to 30/0, having won 14 of the last 15 points, then lost the next three points, giving Chang a break point for 5-all which seemed like a natural pattern of the match, but the scenario of previous four sets when both players serving to win sets failed, wasn’t repeated this time. Edberg saved the break point with a backhand volley. At ‘deuce’, Chang netted a forehand return on Edberg’s second serve, and Edberg had his first match point. He wouldn’t need another – delivered another service winner. “I’ve been in a lot of trouble and come out of it,” Edberg said after one of the most astonishing matches in the tennis history. “Anytime you come back from a break in the fifth set is great, but to do it three times – it proves I built good character.” Total points won: Edberg – 210, Chang – 195. The American, just like Edberg, played two consecutive five-setters in two previous rounds, spending less time though – 3:34 vs. Washington & 4:16 vs. Ferreira.
Final: Robin Finn
This was a duel with dual significance and a dizzying reward for the tennis player who commanded it. Properly animated for the occasion, Stefan Edberg shed his usual restraint, switched on the ignition and not only mounted a successful defense of his United States Open title but took control of the world’s No. 1 ranking in the space of three personally glorious hours yesterday. “The longer the match went on, the better I felt,” said Edberg. “Mentally I was feeling very strong. Any time you can defend your title in a Slam, I mean, not many guys can do that. Defending my title, that’s what I was here for, and becoming No. 1, that’s kind of a nice present for me.” All of that personal and professional justification fell into the lap of the 26-year-old Swede at the expense of Pete Sampras, the Open’s 1990 champion, who couldn’t handle the sustained pressure Edberg applied in the course of his 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-2 victory in 175 minutes. Sampras, his strength sapped by a stomach virus that sent him reeling from the Stadium Court after he toppled the former No. 1, Jim Courier, in the semifinals on Saturday night, faltered in the final set. “I found myself at a point where my body couldn’t do it,” said the 21-year-old Sampras, who hadn’t appeared in a Grand Slam final since he won his first and only Slam here two years ago. “I had my chances in the third set, but my serve kind of let me down,” said Sampras, who classified this year, in which he won four titles, as a “just-miss.” His feelings about the year somewhat resembled his feelings about this match. “It’s a match I definitely could have won if I got the proper points, but he was the better man, he won the important points,” said Sampras, who was hindered by 11 double faults and converted just 2 of the 10 break points he earned against Edberg’s serve. The Swede’s sixth Grand Slam title (and the last one, he had 37 titles altogether at the time) did not come into his possession without a herculean effort: Not since 1951 had any finalist had to play so many sets, 24, just to reach the last round. In the three previous rounds, Edberg was not only pushed to the fifth set, but also had to recover from being down a break in the final set of all three contests. The last of them, his 5-hour-26-minute semifinal match against fourth-seeded Michael Chang, is the longest in the history of this event. “It was a bumpy road,” Edberg said. “I really earned it this year.” His 1992 Open title prevented a sweep of the four Slams by players from the United States. Courier, with victories at the Australian and French Opens, and Andre Agassi, who won Wimbledon, had paved the way for what could have been the first United States sweep since Don Budge singlehandedly swept the Slams in 1938. As the match began, Sampras appeared to be on track to make that happen. “He came out very hot in the first set, but then I sort of got my way into it,” said Edberg, who perceived a definite droop in his opponent’s shoulders once Sampras double-faulted away the 1st game of the 4th set. Sampras might have been the less aggressive of these two serve-and-volley wizards in the opening set, but his passing shots made up for that. When he broke down Edberg’s serve in the 6th game, it was the only window of opportunity he needed in the set. Sampras used a forehand pass down the line to reach deuce, had his first break point of the set when Edberg spilled a forehand volley into the net and captured the game and a 4:2 advantage by ripping a backhand service return down the line. Sampras sealed up the set by pasting a 105 mile-an-hour ace past Edberg, who gave it a nod of acknowledgement but didn’t bother raising a racquet to it. In the 2nd set the first nine games went with serve (Sampras saved break points in two games), but Edberg leading 5:4 managed to break the American for the first time in the final despite 15/40. In the 3rd set, it was Edberg who struggled more on service games, winning two of them saving break points (in the opening game of that set both players threw their racquets – something unusual for them both!). Finally the defending champion was broken at 30 in the 9th game, but when Sampras was serving to win the set, Edberg broke back, also at 30 – Sampras served two double faults in that game, another one at 5:4 for Edberg in the tie-break. The Swede jumped to a 4:0 lead in the final set, and saved a double break point for a 5:1 lead. He finished the magnificent tournament with two service winners and jumped over the net like great champions of the past… Edberg was three weeks a leader of the ATP ranking after the US Open ’92. He couldn’t regain this position though, to finish third straight year as the best player in the world. Courier finished the 1992 season at the top. Since 1993 started the Sampras era that lasted six years. Stats of the final.
U.S. Open, NY, U.S.A.
August 30, 1993; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $4,000,000; Surface – Hard
It was a tournament of bizarre occurrences: within one hour two out of four longest Grand Slam tie-breaks in history took place in the first round; in the fourth round Wally Masur won the only recorded Grand Slam match losing 0:5 in the deciding set; seeds were dropping like flies; finally a guy with an aluminum racquet (Prince Magnesium; it was a time when all players were already using graphite ones), 24-year-old Cedric Pioline, who had never won an ATP title, advanced to the final! Pete Sampras was above all, he was enjoying the best period of his career (extended from Key Biscayne ’93 to Rome ’94) and grabbed the second US Open title without serious troubles.
First round: Greg Stoda, Steve Wilstein
Pete Sampras was almost perfect against Fabrice Santoro (6-3, 6-1, 6-2), who was so thoroughly beaten that he received an ovation when he returned a Sampras smash for a winner. He thrust his hands into the air in mock triumph. “He doesn’t have a huge serve,” Sampras said. “It is a type of match you can get a good rhythm and play pretty smart. It’s a good match for me.” Aaron Krickstein provided a pinch of first-round excitement at the National Tennis Center with a 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-1 victory over Gianluca Pozzi. The U.S. Open knows a good show when it sees one, and Krickstein was it on a day with only seven matches involving seeded players. The officials rolled out Krickstein to the Grandstand Court, which is where a decade ago he whiplashed Vitas Gerulaitis from two sets down in a third-rounder to crash the scene as a 16-year-old. But there was none of that two-sets-down stuff this time. No way. Older and wiser, remember? Instead, Krickstein saved a little something from his old Indiana Jones routine. He was one set behind and only facing set point in the second before scrambling back. Oh, the pit was dug. And, sure, it was filled with snakes. Krickstein hadn’t quite dropped into the mess quite yet. “I tend to just play my way into the match in five-setters trying to get my rhythm,” Krickstein said. “Sometimes, it’s not the best way to go about things.” Things, however, frequently have a way of working out for Krickstein at the U.S. Open. He’s 25-7 in the event for his career, and is unbeaten (18-0) when playing on a court other than the Stadium’s main stage. He has reached at least the third round in all seven appearances, was twice a quarterfinalist and once advanced to the semifinals. Pozzi broke twice to win the first one, and both players looked like circus jugglers in the second. Krickstein broke three times, and Pozzi came back from each disadvantage with a break of his own. Krickstein then wasted two set points in the tiebreaker before Pozzi found himself with one. Krickstein, though, pounded a forehand passing shot to stave it off, and moved back to his third set point with a backhand pass that brushed the line. South African Wayne Ferreira caused a ripple of surprise in what figured to be a most tranquil start to the U.S. Open Monday when he ousted ninth seed Petr Korda of the Czech Republic at the National Tennis Center. Only seven seeds of 32 were scheduled for opening day matches, but Korda had the misfortune of drawing the dangerous Ferreira and paid the price by falling in five sets, 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-2. Ferreira, ranked 19th in the world, was an upset-maker in waiting. He reached the fourth round of this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon, and lost a grueling five-setter to Michael Chang in the quarterfinals here at Flushing Meadow last year. “I haven’t beaten someone in the top 10 for quite a while, so this was a confidence booster,” Ferreira said after the three hour, 29 minute battle in hot and humid conditions. Korda had reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open this year before losing to eventual champion Jim Courier. At Wimbledon he advanced to the round of 16 until falling victim to former champion Michael Stich of Germany. Under hazy skies at Louis Armstrong Stadium, the lanky lefthander’s serve deserted him as he exited in the first round just as he did last year. “I couldn’t serve today,” said the 25-year-old Korda. “I mean, I should have beaten him in three sets. But you know, that’s tennis.” Korda served up 15 double faults and had only one ace against 14 drilled in by Ferreira. In an evening match, Patrick McEnroe made a dogged comeback for a 6-7(4), 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Marcos Ondruska. Stefan Edberg survived a five-set scare from an upstart Frenchman today to successfully begin his quest for a third consecutive U.S. Open men’s singles title. Edberg, bothered by trouble with his normally potent serve, dropped seven consecutive games at one stretch and appeared listless in the New York heat and humidity. But he had enough strength and too much tennis for Olivier Delaitre in a 6-2, 0-6, 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-3 victory. The match lasted 3 hours, 24 minutes. The third-seeded Swede’s match started a long day of action at the National Tennis Center. After a desultory opening day in which just seven of the 32 seeded players took to the courts, Day 2 was more of a typical August day in the Big Apple: hazy sun, temperatures around 90 and lots of activity: Michael Chang, the men’s No. 7 seed, cruised by Shelby Cannon 6-1, 7-5, 6-2, on the grandstand court; Thomas Muster, the 12th seed, beat Alex Corretja 6-4, 6-4, 6-3; in the first upset, Henrik Holm of Sweden defeated sixth-seeded Michael Stich, the 1991 Wimbledon champion from Germany, 6-3, 7-6(8) 3-6, 6-3. “When I played, I did a bad job,” said Stich, who converted just two of seven break opportunities and discovered himself outaced by 16-12. “I mean, I had my chance and I blew it myself.” The defending men’s champion never has been eliminated in the first round at the Open, let alone a two-time defending champ. Edberg is trying to become just the third man in the open era to win this Grand Slam tournament three years in a row. For a while, it looked as if that quest would end in a major upset. Delaitre, ranked 99th in the world, had lost in straight sets to Edberg in their two previous meetings. But with a serve clocked at 115-118 mph, the right-hander swept the second set, won the first game of the third and came within three inches of a 2-sets-to-1 lead in the third-set tiebreaker. Time has cut deep lines into this face, furrowing across the forehead, crevassing down past the nose and around the tight mouth in a mean curl. It is not an ugly face, so much as a weathered map of success gone bad. Mats Wilander was the best once. His eyes are hollow now. It is hard to believe he is just 29 years old. Wilander won at the U.S. Open Wednesday. Here on the wild card Jimmy Connors rejected, the seven-time Grand Slam champ came in ranked 558th and beat a player named Jaime Oncins in the day’s best match, 7-5, 7-6(2), 7-6(16) in a simply terrific tie-breaker. It was just his fourth tour match of the year, and only the second one he won, but no, it is not a comeback. Not if he can help it, anyway. You have to feel some kind of pity for Oncins. Last year, the 23-year old Brazilian walked onto stadium court with Connors. They rolled out a cake for Connors, then 20,000 people sang Happy Birthday, then the terrified Oncins lost in straight sets. Wednesday, the 70th-ranked Oncins drew Wilander on Court 16, a smaller venue, but still packed with those needing a fix from the past. For the second year in a row, Oncins had the house against him. “Yeah,” he said after, smiling grimly. “Next year maybe I get Vilas or… I don’t want to see anybody come back. No more comebacks, no more comebacks. If I see that draw, I go back home. Bye.” Who can blame him? Wilander, adding more serve-and-volley to a game once anchored at the baseline, volleyed elegantly, didn’t double-fault once and produced a surprising nine aces. Worse, after Oncins blew a 4-1 lead in the third, he managed to wrestle Wilander to a standstill in the tie-breaker only to see his day end on a horrible call. With the score tied 15-all (at that moment Oncins had blown 2 set points, but saved 8 match points), the serving Wilander ripped a forehand four inches past the baseline that the linesman ruled good. Enraged, Oncins threw his racket, kicked over a chair, approached the linesman with hand on throat. Wilander calmly watched as Oncins ‘ concentration shattered. Moments later the once-stoic Wilander, on his 10th match point at 17:16, turned to tennis commentator Bud Collins and asked what the record was for tie-breaks. “20-18,” said a startled Collins. “Set about an hour ago.” Wilander nodded, served, and put Oncins out of his misery with a forehand volley, away. It meant something, but not like before. “I love to win and I hate to lose,” Wilander said. “But it doesn’t make a such a big difference anymore, so I was enjoying every moment.” Wilander and Oncins battled for 3 hours, 13 minutes and the match came down to a questionable call on the eighth match point. What did happen 60 minutes earlier? Never Borin’ Goran Ivanisevic served 19 aces past Daniel Nestor and outlasted him 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-6(18). The 38-point third-set tiebreaker was the longest in U.S. Open history. Bjorn Borg and Premjit Lall of India played a 20/18 tiebreaker at Wimbledon in 1973. On his seventh match point (after saving eight set points), the lanky Croatian went for broke and punched a backhand down the line. “Every time I hit when I had match point, he played unbelievable,” Ivanisevic said. “It was a really great tiebreak, the best tiebreak I have played in my life. Longest one and best one.” (the previous longest he played, ti was 15/13 against Guy Forget in Stockholm ’91). The carnage on the courts goes on, Ivan Lendl the latest victim in the worst collapse of men’s seeds in the first round in U.S. Open history. Lendl, three times the champion, limped closer to the end of his career Wednesday, hobbling away on a bad left knee in the middle of his match. Injuries, idleness and age are conspiring against the 33-year-old, leading to first-round exits in three Grand Slams this year and a second-round loss at Wimbledon. Lendl believes he can still play, but the evidence is mounting that his pursuit of another major title is as futile as his efforts before quitting while trailing Neil Borwick 4-6, 6-3, 3-1. “I came in with a bad knee, and it started getting worse,” Lendl said. “It was a bit painful to push off. I had no strength to push off, so I didn’t see any point of playing.” He injured the knee two days earlier, straining or tearing a tendon. If it’s not one injury, it’s another: thumb, wrist, knee. In any case, they’re piling up, taking time to heal. He pulled out of Wimbledon hurt last year, too, but he intends to go on. “This has definitely nothing to do with the future,” Lendl said. “As far as next year goes, yeah.” French Open champion Sergi Bruguera, the No. 5 seed, contributed to the slaughter by losing 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4 to Javier Sanchez. All of Andre Agassi‘s boasts suddenly sounded empty. He bragged about his new work ethic, his renewed confidence. He thought he’d strut into the U.S. Open without playing many matches and just stroll off with the trophy and the fat check. Instead, he walked off a loser Tuesday in one round. Sweden’s Thomas Enqvist, ranked 61, beat Agassi at his own game in a 3 1/2-hour affair, outhitting him from the baseline and making his head spin with 20 aces in a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-2 victory. “I didn’t really feel sharp from the first point to the last point,” said Agassi, the 16th seed. “And when you are down two sets, it takes a lot of energy out of you to get back into it.” Agassi should know because he never has come back from two sets down. Agassi complained he had trouble with the swirling winds, trouble with his backhand. Mostly he had trouble with double faults – three in the final set – and with Enqvist’s 125 mph serves. “It’s definitely a setback for me,” Agassi said. “To what degree I don’t know yet. Maybe I have to work a little harder.” “I just thought that if I can win the first two sets, I can win the fifth,” said Enqvist, 0-3 in five-setters before confronting Agassi, whose five-set resume dropped to 5-9.
Second round: Steve Wilstein, Doug Smith
Stefan Edberg came and went, the U.S. Open’s two-time defending champ gone in the second round, yet on and on toiled Boris Becker. Night turned to day, day to night, and still there was Becker playing his 24-hour first-round match. Then Thursday night he beat the rain, the heat, more rain and pesky Andrei Cherkasov to advance 3-6, 6-7(8), 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 and land in the second round exactly 82 hours 23 minutes after the Open began. Becker, the 1989 Open champion and No. 4 seed this year, seemed doomed by his temper and his erratic shots in a match he wanted to play Monday. He started it Wednesday night, saw it suspended by rain after two points, and resumed Thursday afternoon. Then, after several furious episodes of shouting at the umpire, and after a 1-1/2-hour rain delay following the third set, Becker regained his poise and his power and cut down his errors. The actual match time was 4 hours 43 minutes. And it turned, oddly, on an outburst by the normally composed Cherkasov. Up a break and leading 4:3 in the fourth set, Cherkasov angrily disputed a forehand volley by Becker that the Russian thought went wide. Cherkasov stomped around, fumed, marked the spot with his racket, then lost 10 of the next 11 points to drop the set and go to a fifth. Becker was pleased to still be in the tournament, but not amused by the schedule since he has another match today against Jakob Hlasek. “If he’s fit, he will go far,” No. 47-ranked Cherkasov said. “If he’s not, he’s going to lose, because five sets is very tough.” Stefan Edberg danced on the tightrope throughout the afternoon, until he finally fell off. He had teetered precariously in the first round, surviving a five-setter just as he did three times before winning the title a year ago. He tried to do it again after losing the first two sets against 18th-ranked Karel Novacek, but this time Edberg fell 7-6(3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Edberg’s loss marked only the third time in the Open era that a defending champion has lost as early as the second round. Mats Wilander in 1989 and Ilie Nastase in 1973 were the two other champs to suffer such a quick exit. “It’s sad. I’ve been playing pretty well and I had a reasonable draw,” Edberg said. “You can’t bring it back. I did what I could. I felt I was fighting back, and within five minutes the match was over.” Boris Becker strode off the sizzling griddle of the U.S. Open stadium court, looking no worse for having played in 108-degree heat just 18 hours after his two-day first-round match. “You know,” he said with just a hint of a smile, “I’m a strong son of a gun.” Strong, spry and surprisingly quick, Becker scorched Jakob Hlasek 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 in just 1 hour, 47 minutes and was thankful it didn’t go any longer. Gone was the angry Becker who stormed the court and screamed at the umpire in a five-setter that began Wednesday night, was suspended by rain to Thursday afternoon, was suspended again by rain and finished on Thursday night. Becker, admittedly tired, came out tame this time, content to beat Hlasek from the baseline or at the net when the opportunities were there. Becker served just four aces, but he didn’t need his big serve. All he had to do was rally a bit, then come in and put the ball away, which he did 45 of the 56 times he approached the net. Six seeded men dropped before No. 1 Jim Courier reached the third round Friday by beating Michael Joyce 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. Another seed vanished later, No. 11 Goran Ivanisevic falling to Carlos Costa 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5). Never in the U.S. Open have so many seeded men fallen in the first two rounds. Ivanisevic led 5:0 in the third-set tiebreaker before Costa swept the next seven points. Costa reached match point on a spectacular diving backhand drop-volley and won on a forehand wide by Ivanisevic, who flung his racket in disgust from the baseline to the net. “If I can’t win, up 5-0 in a tie-break, I don’t know what I can win anymore,” Ivanisevic said. “I had six chances to come in, and I didn’t come in once. I just didn’t do anything, even with those short, little balls.” Three years ago, Pete Sampras felt neither pressure nor pain when he became – at 19 – the youngest U.S. Open champion. But to win his first Wimbledon crown in July, the 22-year-old serve-and-volleyer overcame pain (shoulder) and the pressure of playing then-world No. 2 Jim Courier – a clay-court specialist – in the final. “If I would have lost to Jim on grass, it would have taken me sometime to get over it,” Sampras said. “I don’t know how I would have dealt with it. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that. But I was more nervous for that match than any match I have played in my career. It was huge. I mean it was the biggest match I’ve played.” No. 2 seed Sampras stayed on course to claim a second U.S. Open title Thursday, defeating Czechoslovakia’s Daniel Vacek 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(3) in the second round. Vacek, who upset Stefan Edberg in New Haven, Conn., two weeks ago, stayed on the attack. “This is the type of match where it’s good to get by,” Sampras said. “He’s a very dangerous player; he doesn’t have much of a backcourt game, but it doesn’t matter, he can chip and charge. He served 24 aces and… put a lot of pressure on me.” Sampras plays France’s Arnaud Boetsch Saturday in the third round and could face No. 7 Michael Chang in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Chang has beaten Sampras in six of eight matches. Sampras is relieved he won’t see Andre Agassi, a first-round upset victim, in the fourth round. Sampras fears Agassi’s game and isn’t fond of his lifestyle. “He has so many outside distractions. Everywhere he goes, he’s mobbed,” Sampras said. “Obviously, it’s what he wants, it’s what he likes, but I wouldn’t be able to handle it. My main goal is to try to win matches, and that is really it. I’m not trying to be much of a hot dog out there. I just go out there and get the job done.” It was tough enough for Richey Reneberg and Andrei Medvedev on Friday night without the rain, the blowing trash and the bottle that smashed down onto the court while Reneberg was serving. But they played through it all – the hot dog wrappers, the shards of glass, all of it – and they gave the grandstand crowd at the U.S. Open a fine second-round match. Reneberg won the opening set, but Medvedev, the 19-year-old Ukrainian prodigy, finally overpowered the former SMU star, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-3. “It’s ridiculous,” Reneberg said of the numerous delays as sweepers, shovelers and towelers intermittently took the court. The bottle was apparently thrown on the court from a walkway 30 feet above the players, and it missed a lines-woman by just a few feet. In an empty stadium at the U.S. Open the other night, two old pals hit tennis balls, John McEnroe on one side of the net, Mats Wilander on the other, lobbing soft shots at each other for old time’s sake. Not long after that, Wilander, 29, played nearly five sets of gripping tennis, in a marathon victory over Mikael Pernfors that ended at 2:26 a.m. Saturday morning (the latest finished match at majors at the time). The 7-6(3), 3-6, 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 victory thrust Wilander into the third round at the Open. The match lasted 3 hours 59 minutes. He’s no longer a curiosity, a golden oldie in this show for fun. One more win against 15th-seed Pioline and Wilander would find himself in the the second week, more than likely against No. 1 Courier. It has a ring about it. In 1988, at age 24, with seven Grand Slam notches in his tennis belt including three that year, Wilander was No. 1. Then all the air went out of him. Tired by the grind of the game and constant travel, Wilander lost his motivation. He slipped to 12 by 1989, then 41 by 1990. Eliminated in the second round of the French Open in 1991, he walked off the court motioning to his wife that he was through. Then this year the itch returned. He frowned when it was called a comeback. It was just for fun, he said, playing in tournaments at New Haven, Atlanta and Schenectady. When Jimmy Connors passed on a wild card invitation to the Open, it was offered to Wilander, who was ranked No. 558 in the world. Just for fun, he accepted. And what fun he is having. In that unforgettable 4th set, with no room for error and the crowd urging him on, Wilander fought off two break points in both the 6th and 8th games. Pernfors did the same in the 9th, and they went to another tie breaker. Pernfors saved an almost certain mini-break on the first point with a sprawling volley winner that sent him crashing into a courtside retaining wall. Up by 6:4, Wilander had two set points but could not convert. At 7:6 – his third set point – Wilander hit a soft second serve that an exhausted Pernfors returned into the net, and as the clock neared 2 A.M., the Swedes headed into a 5th set. As Friday’s match approached four hours, Pernfors was trying to work through leg cramps as fatigue crept in. On the other side of the net, Wilander was dancing around, waiting for the next ball to be hit. And having a lot of fun. In the deciding set, Wilander broke in game six (*4:2) and finally thought he had the match under control. Pernfors broke right back. “When I got the break in the fifth set, I thought that was the turning point,” the 558th-ranked Wilander said. “He turned it straight back.” By the 9th game, the two appeared headed for another tie-break, but Wilander held at love and Pernfors, suffering from cramps from the previous set, was fading fast. Wilander finally closed out the stubborn, 37th-ranked Pernfors with a final service break in the 10th game. The stadium clock read 2:26 a.m. as the two high-fived at the net and then hugged one another. Cedric Pioline won his second consecutive match in five sets being two games from defeat against Jared Palmer (6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5, 6-1; in the first round Pioline struggled past David Prinosil).
Third round: Steve Wilstein
Pete Sampras ruled the stadium court, Michael Chang the grandstand, and side by side Saturday night they avoided this year’s U.S. Open jinx to move a match away from a quarterfinal showdown. A record crowd of 22,495 in the afternoon turned the Open into little more than a shopping mall as ill-timed sprinkles wrecked most of the day matches. Players killed time huddled over backgammon boards and games of hearts. The scheduled switches fit right in with the tenor of this tournament, plagued by injuries, illness, heat, mugginess, rain and a record number of upsets – including seven seeded men falling in the first two rounds. But when Sampras and Chang finally got on the courts, another crowd of 20,829 packing the stands, they skirted the pitfalls that caught so many others. Sampras, No. 2, overpowered Arnaud Boetsch 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 moments after Chang, No. 7, wore down Bernd Karbacher 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. No big surprise there. Sampras threw a scare into Boetsch in the first game of their match. Boetsch survived seven break points and managed to hold serve after 10 minutes, but it was obvious then that it was just a matter of time before he yielded. Sampras didn’t have his usual high number of aces – none in the first set and only six in the match – but his serves of up to 126 mph produced plenty of service winners and soft returns. “I didn’t do much all day,” Sampras said. “I got here at 10, figuring I’d play at 2. There’s not much you can do. It’s a little uncomfortable in the players’ lounge. There are times you want to be left alone and not bothered. It’s tough to get privacy.” The switch from day to night did not disturb him, though the court wasn’t as dry as he’d like. “It was a cool night and the court played a bit slick,” he said. “I thought I served a little up and down. There was one streak where I couldn’t buy a first serve, but I’m pretty pleased.” In the only afternoon match in the stadium, slipped in between the raindrops, Patrick McEnroe played and lost. Not in the dramatic fashion of his five-setter two years ago against Jimmy Connors, but in a routine wipeout at the hands of No. 12 Thomas Muster, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. The playing time was only 2-1/2 hours, but it took more than seven hours to complete with a 3-1/2-hour drizzle delay in the first set and then another one-hour delay during the second set. No sooner would the court be mopped up than another light shower would soak it again and again. “It was difficult for everyone,” McEnroe said. “We’re used to it. It’s part of the job. I don’t think (the delays) affected the match.’‘ He couldn’t do much with Muster’s punishing shots into the corners and angled volleys. This wasn’t so much tennis as it was a brutal 5-hour, 11-minute, mano a mano, toe-to-toe slugfest. It was Richard Krajicek surviving two match points in the third set, slamming his racket and getting booed in the fourth, absorbing all the power Todd Martin could muster in the fifth. It was Martin leaping, lunging, diving for balls from start to finish. And finally it was Krajicek smashing his 23rd and 24th aces. Boom, boom. And just like that it was over. With those two aces Sunday, the first at 117 mph, the second at 118, Krajicek ended the longest match of the U.S. Open this year and second longest in history at the time with a 6-7(4), 4-6, 7-6(9), 6-4, 6-4 victory. Martin, a rising star in U.S. tennis, reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon after beating Goran Ivanisevic and David Wheaton. This time Martin came so close to beating another top player when he had two match points against the No. 10 Krajicek in the third-set tiebreaker. “I was lucky, very lucky in the third-set tiebreaker,” Krajicek said. “I was lucky to come out of there alive.” At the halfway point of this Open, the greatest buzz was reserved for the 6’5 Krajicek, with his rocket serves, and the 6’6 Martin, with his blend of power and grace. Each player won 193 points across five sets and the five-plus hours. Martin, 23, has climbed from No. 87 to No. 17 this year, and seemed well on his way to climbing more. He was up two sets to none, and had two match points in the third-set tiebreaker. On the first, trailing 6:5, Krajicek ripped a second-serve winner. Moments later, down 8:7, he aced Martin with a 104-mph job, again on the second serve. Krajicek, who continued going for gutsy second serves, took a 10:9 lead on a cross-court forehand that Martin lunged at but couldn’t handle. Krajicek then closed the set with a 126-mph serve that Martin netted. “On the first match point, he hit an unbelievable second serve,” Martin said. “I barely got a racket on it and it was right at me.” Krajicek’s cannon blasts got better and better. He had 24 aces in all. He was broken once in the final three sets. In the fifth, Martin could manage just five points on Krajicek’s five service games. “It’s better than I’ve ever been served against,” Martin said. “The points with Richard are so repetitive, it’s hard to decipher which ace came where.” Krajicek was totally spent at the end but kept firing. “I looked at the other side and he didn’t look like he was in much better shape than I was,” Krajicek said. Krajicek slammed his racket on the court when Martin broke him to make it 2:2 in the fourth set, bringing boos from the partisan crowd rooting for the former All-American from Northwestern. But Krajicek settled down and broke right back, relying on his booming serves all the way. “On a good day, he can be very tough to beat,” Martin said. “On a bad day, he is very beatable.” Krajicek must have another good day to go on. In the next round, he faces Andrei Medvedev, who beat Karsten Braasch 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4). For 1988 champion Mats Wilander, who rallied to beat Mikael Pernfors in the second round the story was different. Wilander couldn’t handle the greater power and 15 aces of 15th-seed Cedric Pioline in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 loss. “I didn’t have the time to get into my rhythm,” Wilander said. “Against Pernfors, there was time. But not with Pioline. Pioline takes a minute for a game. I’m not sharp enough to take advantage at 15-30 every time. When I’m out there it would be nice not to miss easy shots.” Part of the men’s draw looked like the Australian Open, rather than the U.S. Open. Two men from Down Under, unseeded Wally Masur and Jamie Morgan, reached the fourth round, where they will play each other. Masur, never before past the second round at the U.S. Open, beat Javier Sanchez 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3). Morgan, never before past the second round at any Grand Slam event, beat Carlos Costa 7-6(7), 7-6(1), 7-6(2). A tie-break spoon: Nestor lost to Ivanisevic 4-6, 6-7, 6-7, who lost to Costa 3-6, 6-7, 6-7, who lost to Morgan 6-7, 6-7, 6-7 🙂
Fourth round: Steve Wilstein, Glenn Jordan
They came out of nowhere, mystery men, ambushing Jim Courier by day and Boris Becker by night in this zaniest of U.S. Opens. Who are these guys? Cedric Pioline? Magnus Larsson? Most fans never heard of them, yet there stood Pioline and Larsson in the quarterfinals while the No. 1 Courier and No. 4 Becker skulked away. The fans cheered Courier to defeat Tuesday. They rubbed it in with a loud, cruel cry – “Bye, bye, Jimmy” – before the final point. Never did U.S. Open fans seem so pleased to see an American lose and a Frenchman win. They roared for the slender, smiling Pioline as his blistering backhands sent Courier scurrying corner to corner. They oohed and aahed at his dozen aces. They loved his touch volleys and overheads and his calmness under pressure. And when it was over, when Courier and his snarling, cursing and racket-dropping had nowhere else to go, Pioline had a 7-5, 6-7(4) 6-4, 6-4 victory over the world’s top-ranked player. Pioline kept Courier pinned to the baseline most of the time. And his speed and quickness kept him in points as he ran down shots Courier usually hits for winners. That made Courier go for even more winners, hit the ball a little harder, try to hit a little closer to the line. As a result, Courier made 42 unforced errors against just 27 winners. “I think I was just more consistent and played my game on the key points,” Pioline said. “On break points, I played some big shots. I kept the pressure on him so he was making mistakes he doesn’t make every day.” Pioline, on the other hand, hit 66 winners, including 12 aces. “I’m very happy,” said Pioline, who in his fifth year as a pro has yet to win an ATP Tour event. Until today, Courier had not lost a set in his first three matches. In fact, he had lost a total of just 22 games, including 12 to MaliVai Washington. Then came Pioline. Pioline, playing in only his third U.S. Open, said this tournament is “Not easy. It’s noisy. It’s not good food. It’s not nice. But it’s the same for everybody. I just play my game.” Hours later, it was Becker’s turn. He had the crowd behind him. He seemed ready to make another trademark comeback from two sets down as he did in the first round and seven times before. But his once-mighty serve failed him in the end and he, too, was gone against a stranger, losing to Larsson 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. “I thought a train hit me,” Becker said. “I guess to come back again from two sets to love down was a little bit too much for me tonight.” Larsson, a clay specialist who played in only six hard-court tournaments this year, out-aced Becker 15-10. Becker double-faulted eight times to the Swede’s one. Trailing 6:5 in the fourth set, Becker double-faulted to 15/30. Two points later he was way long on a forehand. Then he hit his first serve long by 5 feet and finally knocked a forehand wide to lose. Andrei Medvedev, a 19-year-old playing his first U.S. Open, reached the quarterfinals by defeating Richard Krajicek 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(4). The strangest match had to be the fourth-round contest between unseeded Australians Wally Masur, 30, and Jamie Morgan, 22. Morgan won the first two sets. Masur rallied to tie. Morgan won the first five games of the fifth set. He served for the match at 5:1 and had a match point at 40/30. Masur won the match, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. It was one of the greatest comebacks in U.S. Open history. “I cannot believe I won that match,” Masur said. “I mean, it was just ridiculous. I was gone.” Serving for the match at 5:1, Morgan hit a smash on the first point that Masur said “was only 2 feet wide.” After scuffling back from two sets down, after struggling for three hours, the call reached into the depths of Masur. He had been thinking about returning home for the first time in four months, about who to call when he got there, but in his rage, he forgot all that. “I was resigned to losing,” he said. “Then I got that call and from that moment on, I was just so into it, it was a joke.” With open court on match point, Morgan hit a forehand on a short ball into the net. That was enough for Masur. He broke. Then he snatched “an electrical device” from the umpire’s chair and hurled it into the stands, earning a warning. He reached 40-all on his serve at 5:2, then won 16 points in succession. “He definitely tightened up a bit,” Masur said, “but I didn’t miss a ball for about six games. I just didn’t miss a ball.” When Morgan finally won a point, he trailed, 5:6, 15/30. Masur won the next two points for the match. “You can’t put a loss like that in perspective,” said Morgan , who left a locker room containing four smashed rackets to talk with reporters. “Wally doesn’t give up. But he didn’t win the match; I lost it.” He ran off 16 straight points and 18 of 19. By the time he was finished, Morgan was shellshocked. “He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to give up at 5:0,” Morgan said. “When I was serving for the match, I just started making stupid mistakes.” Pete Sampras and Michael Chang started their rivalry 15 years ago on a Poway, Calif., tennis court. It has continued at Kalamazoo, Mich., at Paris, and at a dozen other locations around the world. And now that both have swept to fourth-round victories at the U.S. Open, the long-running duel is about to add its most important chapter. Sampras and Chang, Southern California tennis fanatics who first met in a junior tournament at age 7, will square off in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Sampras ousted Thomas Enqvist of Sweden, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(4) on the National Tennis Center’s stadium court right after Chang’s 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory over South African Wayne Ferreira, who was spent after three consecutive five-setters. Also advancing on a quiet day of men’s action were No. 14 seed Alexander Volkov and No. 12 Thomas Muster. Volkov, who has reached the final eight at the Open for the second consecutive year, beat unseeded American Chuck Adams, 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-1. In the only singles match of the night session, Muster beat Brad Gilbert, 6-2, 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2. While the second-ranked Sampras has been somewhat more successful than the No. 7 Chang, it’s Chang who has the edge in this rivalry. He beat Sampras to win the 18-and-under national championship in 1987, and he is 6-2 overall and 5-0 on hardcourts since they’ve turned professional. “The thing he does is return my serve really well,” said Sampras, who converted 19 aces and three service breaks Monday into a win over the player who had beaten Andre Agassi in the first round. “Michael probably has some of the best passing shots in the game, and he is so quick that I feel like I overhit the ball.” That’s the same problem that plagued Ferreira on Monday, preventing him from avenging his five-set loss to Chang in the fourth round of the U.S. Open a year ago. Chang converted four of his five break-point opportunities, while Ferreira succeeded only once in 10 attempts to break Chang’s serve. Ferreira, trying to come up with perfect shots, became so worn down by Chang’s methodical baseline play that he lost the first four games of the third set at love. “His game never varies that much,” said Ferreira, who turns 22 on Sept. 15. “He always seems to be putting the pressure on you, and that makes him a really, really tough person to play against.”
Quarterfinals: Karen Goldberg
Cedric Pioline became the first Frenchman in 61 years to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open on Thursday night, following his triumph over top-ranked Jim Courier by knocking out No. 8 Andrei Medvedev. Pioline will next face 30-year-old Wally Masur, a 6-2, 7-5, 7-5 victor over Magnus Larsson and in the semifinals of a Grand Slam event for only the second time in 42 tries. Pioline, who has never won a professional tournament and came in seeded No. 15, took advantage of Medvedev’s repeated errors in the first two sets and double faults on crucial points to win 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 (Pioline ousted Medvedev in four sets at Wimbledon ’93 as well). Medvedev lost the second set when he double faulted with a second serve six feet past the service box, about the length of a coffin. But just when he seemed buried by his own mistakes, Pioline let him back in with a flurry of his own errors and a double fault on set point. Pioline settled down in the fourth set, pounding approach shots into the corners, stretching Medvedev and putting away volleys. Pioline, seeking to become the first French U.S. champion since Henri Cochet won the Nationals in 1928, next faces Masur, the workingman’s hero in the pampered world of tennis. He grinds out matches, trains as if he’s going out for Australian Rules Football. He grunts, struggles, never quits. Masur is the oldest man left in the U.S. Open, wrinkles around his eyes, furrows in his brow, a look of perpetual exhaustion on his unshaven face. Masur is the Aussie version of Jimmy Connors, minus the flash and cockiness and championships. Down Under they love him, around the world he’s virtually unknown. Few players work harder or train more ruggedly than Masur, who runs drills and pumps iron. When Masur took off his shirt at courtside, his rippling muscles drew whistles from female fans. Masur, who hadn’t gotten past the third round at the U.S Open in nine previous appearances, became the first Australian in the Open semis since Darren Cahill in 1988. The only other Grand Slam semifinal Masur reached was at home in the Australian Open in 1987, when it was on grass. En route he beat reigning Wimbledon champion Becker. Pete Sampras has more hardcourt victories than anyone else on the men’s tennis tour this year, but until last night there was one opponent on that surface he had never beaten: Michael Chang. No. 2 seed Sampras used his five-inch height advantage and his powerful serve to wear down No. 7 Chang 6-7(0), 7-6(2), 6-1, 6-1 in the quarter-finals of the 1993 U.S. Open last night. “He is a much better player than the last time I played him [at Lipton in 1992],” Chang said. “I guess I’ve got to pump more iron. I thought I ran out of gas in the last two sets. I feel like he wasn’t giving me a whole lot of opportunities out there.” Sampras fired 13 aces past Chang, with whom he first played in a tournament at a high school in Poway, when they were 7 and 8 years old. The 1990 U.S. Open Champion won 88 percent of his first serves, and 30 points on his second serve… hit twofold more winners than Chang. “Pete is one of the most complete players on the tour,” said Chang. “He is one of the most talented, if not the most talented on the tour. There are not many who can do what he can, serve, volley, everything.” In the beginning, Chang could do what Sampras was doing, though. The match was tight as the first two sets took over two hours and went to tie-breaks. After Chang won the first game of the 3rd set, he disappeared and Sampras breezed through the next two sets in less than an hour (the whole match lasted three hours). “In the first set-and-a-half, I wasn’t taking the match to Michael, he was taking it to me,” Sampras said. “I was sitting back and that’s not my style. Then I started serving better and I played the best two sets of tennis I had in a long time.” In the 4th set, he broke Chang at love twice. Chang went two more games without a point before taking a holding his serve at 40/0 in the sixth game. But it was far to little to get back in the match. He missed forehand returns on the first two points. Sampras, on his second serve, sent his opponent back to the baseline, where, after a long volley, Chang hit a forehand long. He hit a forehand into the net to give Sampras the match. Sampras will meet No. 14 Alexander Volkov, a 7-6(6), 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5 winner over No. 12 Thomas Muster, Saturday. Volkov fought off two match points at 4:5 in the fifth set (service winner followed up by an approach to the net that forced Muster’s FH error), then broke to go up 6:5 when Muster double-faulted. Volkov served two aces to close it out at 1:38 a.m. The meeting of left-handers lasted 3 hours, 37 minutes. Volkov ended Muster’s 19-match winning streak, which included a clay-court title in the Croatian Open the day before the start of the U.S. Open.
Semifinals: Hal Bock
For Cedric Pioline Sampras plays France’s Arnaud Boetsch Saturday in the third round and could face No. 7 Michael Chang in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Chang has beaten Sampras in six of eight matches. Sampras is relieved he won’t see Andre Agassi, a first-round upset victim, in the fourth round. Sampras fears Agassi’s game and isn’t fond of his lifestyle.the challenge is simple. Beat No. 1 again. Do it for the second time in a week – against a different No. 1 – and he will be the U.S. Open champion. Pioline became the first French finalist at the Open in 61 years on Saturday when he defeated unseeded Wally Masur 6-1, 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 6-1. Then Pete Sampras, taking advantage of Jim Courier’s early elimination by the 15th-seeded Pioline, claimed the top spot in the rankings and a spot in today’s championship match against Pioline with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Alexander Volkov. Sampras, who won the Open in 1990 and captured Wimbledon last July 4, held the No. 1 ranking from April 12 before losing it back to Courier on Aug. 23, one week before this tournament began. Sampras, 22, took it back decisively against Volkov. Sampras opened the match with three straight aces, zooming serves of up to 126 mph, a sort of declaration of his intentions. He had 16 aces and converted 95 percent of his first serves. Volkov, the first Russian to ever reach the semifinals at the Open, was not broken until it counted most, on the final game of the first set. Sampras began wearing Volkov down after that and by the third game, with shadows settling over the National Tennis Center, he was clearly in charge. “I served very well,” Sampras said. “My serve was really on today. I’m hitting the ball really well. It’s been better and better so far here.” Sampras knows he will be favored today. He usually is. “I’m expected to win,” he said. “On any given day, anything can happen. He’s a very talented player. He’ll come out swinging. He’s played well all week. I’m hopeful I can put pressure on him and then see what happens.” A year ago, Sampras reached the Open final against Stefan Edberg but came in sick with a stomach virus and lost in four sets. “I’m not thinking of last year,” he said. “Last year I had a bit of bad luck and got sick the night before. I feel good now.” Sampras said No. 1 is nice but is not his top priority. “A U.S. Open victory is the bottom line,” he said. “If I lose tomorrow, I’ll be pretty upset.” Pioline, 24, knows Sampras will be no easy assignment. “He is going to be tough,” Pioline said. “He is playing very well. Good serve, good forehand, good backhand, good volley, good smash, good legs, good mentally.” With long distance help from his coach, Henri Dumont, who returned to Paris on business after the first week of the Open, Pioline played up and down tennis against Masur. He was nearly perfect in the first and fourth sets but far from that in the second and third. Pioline said the 6-1 first set was almost too easy. “After that, I was not thinking about my match but about winning, so maybe that is why he played better and I played a little less.” Still, serves that soared as high as 118 mph were enough to carry Pioline through. Masur was never able to break him and seemed on the defensive. “The first five games, he did absolutely nothing wrong,” Masur said. “I don’t think anyone could continue to play as he did.” A year ago, when he played the Open, Pioline was fairly anonymous, ranked No. 60 in the world and gone by the third round (he had beaten by Courier in 4 sets, whom he defeated in 1993 also in 4 sets, but in the fourth round). He was up to No. 33 in the world at the start of this season and much better than that at this tournament, where his victims included ex-champions Mats Wilander and Courier, plus teenage hotshot Andrei Medvedev. By reaching the finals, Pioline is assured of at least being No. 11 in the rankings. Should he beat Sampras he would move to No. 9 or 10. The last Frenchman in the finals of the U.S. Championships was Henri Cochet, who lost to H. Ellsworth Vines in 1932.
Final: Steve Wilstead
From the moment of Pete Sampras‘ first serve, a 127-mph screamer that landed a bit long but evoked knowing laughter from the crowd, there never was a doubt he would win his second U.S. Open. No doubts from Sampras, none from the crowd, and very soon none from Cedric Pioline, a Frenchman who had never won a tournament and was playing in his first Grand Slam final. “I wanted at the start of the match to smoke them by him even if I miss,” Sampras said. “Kind of send him a message that I’m going to hit it pretty hard. That is what I did.” After Sampras delivered that message, he had little trouble beating Pioline, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, yesterday to follow up his Wimbledon championship with another U.S. Open title, win $535,000 and punctuate his ascendancy again to No. 1. Sampras showed a maturity of style that extended far beyond the serve-and-volley game that made him the youngest U.S. Open champion in history at 19 three years ago. His dominance on the hard courts the past two weeks, from the baseline and at the net, carries the promise of many more Grand Slam titles on any surface. “In 1990, the victory came almost too fast and too easy,” Sampras said. “Throughout this two weeks, I’ve been thinking about this moment. I can appreciate it more this time. The Grand Slam titles – that’s what it’s all about. I have three Grand Slam titles, the two biggest ones in the world. My goal one day is to be in the same set as Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. Those guys were class acts. That is something that I try to present when I play. I try to conduct myself in a classy manner. There wasn’t really an American that I really idolized. Sure, I respected McEnroe’s talent and Connor’s intensity, but the Aussies – those were great guys.” If anything was going to derail Sampras yesterday it would have been something strange, like running out of rackets. One after another, Sampras’ taut racket strings snapped from his booming serves and his top spin shots, sending him to the sideline in the second set with a couple of rackets to be restrung quickly. Pioline, meanwhile, scattered balls all over the stadium. He knocked one return in the first set 25 rows into the stands. Then in the first game of the second set, Pioline smacked a second serve to the left temple of a fan in the second row. That fellow happened to be a former World Cup goalie for Yugoslavia, who knows what it’s like to get hit with a ball. “This was much stronger, as fast as I ever got hit in my head,” said Slobodan Damiyano, 43, showing off the red mark on his head. “I had just complained how he plays soft. It was a bullet. I saw it, but I just have time to turn a little bit.” Pioline’s next hardest shot was a ball he slapped into the crowd after he double-faulted to fall behind, 4:3, in the same set. That brought a warning from the umpire. When Pioline wasn’t abusing the balls and spectators, he played well enough not to embarrass himself but not enough to threaten Sampras. Pioline played almost flawlessly in beating Jim Courier in the fourth round, but Courier hit many more errors than Sampras. The speed of Sampras’ serves on 12 aces and many more service winners, the power of his deep forehands and backhands, the quickness and sharpness of his net game all were too much for Pioline. Pioline, seeded No. 15, couldn’t pressure Sampras with serves, and double-faulted eight times, the last on match point. “Sampras can do any shot,” Pioline said. “When he’s playing good, he’s the best. You feel like you try something and have no chance. On his serve, it is hard to play. And he can try and do a winner on your serve. He was just playing so deep, I couldn’t play.” Sampras broke Pioline in the first game and lost only four points in five service games as he raced through the first set in 38 minutes. As Sampras drove a 122-mph ace in one game, crows circled overhead like buzzards, cawing as if mocking Pioline and bringing laughter from the fans. “When Pete serves hard into the corners, he’s just unstoppable,” said his coach, Tim Gullikson. Pioline refused to fold easily, though, and his classic ground strokes and angled, kicking serves kept him from being swept away by Sampras, who wasn’t nearly as sharp in this match as he was in winning Wimbledon or beating Michael Chang in the Open quarters. “It was cold and windy, and I was having trouble with my second serves,” Sampras said. “He came out a little bit tight. I was surprised. I thought he would come out swinging away. In the second set I let him back into the match by some careless errors,” said Sampras, who was broken for the first time in the second game of the set. “But I managed to play the big points really well.” Pioline made a big impression despite his flurry of wild shots and 45 unforced errors, nearly twice as many as Sampras. “Pioline’s already very good and he can become a truly great player,” said Pancho Gonzalez, winner of the U.S. Nationals in 1948 and 1949. “In some ways he reminds me of the young Ilie Nastase.” Pioline never became a great champion, but he repeated his great result reaching the Wimbledon 1997 final, where he again lost in straight sets to Sampras. For the 22-year-old American, the US Open ’92 crown was his 20th title. Stats of the final.