1992 – 1993, Roland Garros

French Open, Paris
May 25, 1992; 128 Draw (16 seeds) – $3,797,528; Surface – Clay

Jim Courier triumphs second straight year at Roland Garros, this time as the main favorite for the title. Courier and Andre Agassi create the first pair to play at one major four years in succession against each other, with Courier edging 3-1. Henri Leconte [200] advances to the semifinals as the first player participating in the French Open thanks to “wild card”.
All scorelines
First round: (Daily Breeze)

John McEnroe didn’t lose at the French Open on Tuesday simply because he is older, slower and tamer than he used to be. He lost because a player of the younger generation showed no mercy. McEnroe’s four-set loss to a 21-year-old Swede, Nicklas Kulti, in the first round at Stade Roland kulti_mac_rg92Garros was a sad and frustrating way to say au revoir to Court Central, where he may never play again. The 33-year-old New Yorker made a gallant but futile effort, sliding and stretching and straining for balls throughout the 6-2, 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-5 punishment. Despite his love of Paris, its red clay has never been terribly hospitable to McEnroe, and when he hit a final, lunging backhand volley that died in the net, the crowd rose to its feet and showered him with cheers and applause. “I’m disappointed,” said McEnroe, who has won seven Grand Slam tournaments but never a title here. “But everything comes to an end. I suppose I’m a little bit sad. But there is good and bad in every situation.” Organizers thought McEnroe was a worthy center court attraction. Not so for Jim Courier, who was relegated to court No. 1. If the slight bothered him, it didn’t show. He swept past Sweden’s Nicklas Kroon 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-2, extending his match winning streak to 17 and strengthening his position as overwhelming favorite. Courier faltered briefly in the first set, dropping three straight games after leading 5:2*. Kroon, ranked No. 216 in the world, had three break points for a chance to go up 6:5 and serve for the set. Kroon went for broke on the first break point, swinging as hard as he could on the service return – only to sail the ball into the wall behind the baseline. Courier eventually won the game with an ace. In the tiebreaker, Courier stepped up the pressure with deep ground-strokes and led all the way, a pattern that continued in the next two sets. Kroon said Courier proved he should be the tournament favorite. “If I had to put money on who will win the tournament, I would have to put it on him,” Kroon said. Under a hot, noontime sun on Court Central, 32-year-old Ivan Lendl, the 10th seed, dispatched one of Europe’s best clay-court players, Sergi Bruguera of Spain, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. The only seeded player to lose Tuesday was Brad Gilbert; the No. 15 seed fell to Cedric Pioline of France, 2-6, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1. Second-seeded Stefan Edberg suffered from a lapse of concentration as he blew two match points in the 3rd set and was forced into a fourth before downing Frenchman Olivier Soules, 7-5, 6-1, 6-7(5) 7-5. Pete Sampras‘ match was suspended Monday evening because of rain. Sampras returned confidently Tuesday morning to win as he defeated Marc Rosset, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Sampras held a *4:2 lead in the fifth set when the rains came Monday, and saved a break-point with an ace to start off today’s session. He saved another break point in that game with a service winner, held to go up 5:2, and served out the match. Andre Agassi, seeded 11th and hoping to end a yearlong malaise by winning a title on his favorite surface, was in a buoyant mood as he trampled over Javier Frana of Argentina, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. Munching afterward on a chocolate-covered ice-cream bar – he recently gave up his low-fat, health-food regimen – Agassi was clearly pleased that he had performed so ably. Having lost in two consecutive finals here, including a disastrous defeat to Courier last year, Agassi said he anticipated arriving in Paris and succumbing to bouts of nervousness and tension. “Surprisingly I felt so relaxed being here,” he said. “I was really under the impression that I was going to come here and feel a lot of pressure.” Andrei connors_stich_rg92Medvedev, the junior champion last year, had to win three qualifying matches just to get into the 128-man field as its youngest player. But he belied his No. 175 world ranking with a 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-4 victory Monday over 16th-seeded Jakob Hlasek of Switzerland.  Jimmy Connors came to Roland Garros Stadium on Wednesday to enjoy the waning moments of an illustrious career but left fatigued and defeated, unable to persuade his body to carry the torch a little farther. Before about 15,000 cheering, adoring fans, Connors could not muster the strength to advance to the second round. After 3 hours, 52 minutes of sometimes-brilliant, sometimes-sloppy play, he succumbed to his aging body and lost to Germany’s Michael Stich 7-5, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-2. After winning a third-set tiebreaker, it appeared that Connors, three months shy of 40, was primed to recapture the spirit that made last summer one of his most memorable. His body refused to cooperate. “I think I made my first excursion in a dark hole today, and it was scary,” he said. As the fourth set started, Connors walked onto center court looking disheveled. His drenched shirt hanging out, Connors played meekly, losing the first four games. Stich passed him almost at will. “I think I was beyond the wall,” said Connors, who virtually gave Stich the 4th set, trying to conserve energy for a 5th and deciding set. During the changeover, Connors sat in his chair, head down. An aching shoulder got a spray of anesthetic from a trainer, and Connors stretched his arm, trying to loosen muscles. Then, he took the court and held serve. Connors seemed to be galvanized, attacking and changing pace as he had the first three sets. Like a veteran junkball pitcher, he hoped to confuse and frustrate the fourth-seeded Stich, the defending Wimbledon champion. But nothing worked. Not the chanting crowd, and not Connors’ revived spirit. Stich’s shot selection might have been questionable, but his booming serves were overpowering. “I played terrible,” Stich said, not far from the truth. In the longest match of the Roland Garros ’92, Andrei Cherkasov ousted Jordi Arrese 6-1, 6-3, 5-7, 6-7(7), 6-3. Their meeting lasted 4 hours 48 minutes.

Second round: (AP)

Top-seeded Jim Courier overpowered a potentially tough opponent and Andre Agassi won the most lopsided rout so far in the men’s draw as both advanced today to the third round of the French Open. Courier, the defending champion and world’s top-ranked player, was never in danger in his 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Austrian Thomas Muster. The 11th-seeded Agassi, who lost in the finals here the past two years, crushed Gianluca Pozzi 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 in only 84 minutes. Agassi had the edge in total points, 88 to 45, and break points, 22 to 3. Agassi said he was astounded that his match with Pozzi was so easy. “Usually you have one or two moments where you think the match might slip away, but I didn’t,” he said. “He was like a ball machine out there… I couldn’t have striked the ball much better.” Another seeded American, Pete Sampras, had a much tougher time, winning 7-6(6), 6-4, 7-6(3) against an obscure Frenchman Laurent Prades, ranked 204th in the world and sanchez_masur_rg92 1playing his first French Open. Organizers started play 30 minutes early to accommodate a backlog of matches postponed by rain. On tap were 31 of the 32 men’s second-round matches, and 21 of the women’s second-round matches. But for the third time in four days, rain came in the afternoon, interrupting play. The longest match at Roland Garros in terms of games occurred, since the introduction of the tie-break in 1973: Emilio Sanchez [20] battled past Wally Masur [68] in a match that recorded 64 games: 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 13-11 in 4 hours, 46 minutes. Winners among the men included No. 8 Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 over Carl Limberger of Austria, and No. 9 seed Carlos Costa of Spain, 7-6(7), 6-3, 6-2, over Austria’s Gilbert Schaller. The youngest player in the men’s field, 17-year-old Andrei Medvedev of Ukraine, won 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 over the second-oldest, South African-born American Kevin Curren, 34.  It used to be that way for Ivan Lendl, a former world No. 1 and three-time French Open champion. But his freefall from the top continued as he lost to Jaime Oncins of Brazil 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 8-6. After a rain suspension Thursday evening, the match resumed with Oncins serving at 5:5 in the 5th set. The first game went to deuce seven times and Lendl had four break points, but Oncins kept hitting forehand winners and finally held. Three games later, Oncins broke Lendl for the match. “I played relaxed,” Oncins oncins_rg92said. “In the last game, he missed some shots he normally wouldn’t miss. I think in this game he played a little bit nervous.” Lendl, serving at 6:7, won the first point, but quickly got into trouble. At 15/40, he answered a drop shot by Oncins with one of his own. But the 6’4 Oncins got to the shot and cranked a backhand down the line for the match. While Oncins went into a crouch and then a celebration dance, Lendl quickly walked away in disgust. “You have to take a risk for a winner against a guy like Lendl,” said Oncins, ranked 72nd. Lendl, 32, has slipped to No. 12 in the world rankings and has been losing consistently in the early rounds. But he said he is not going to panic. “Usually when something starts going bad, it starts piling up and that’s been the case with me lately,” he said. “But I suppose it will come around again. You just can’t get desperate. You have to keep trying, be positive and be patient. You can’t doubt yourself.”  Stefan Edberg, the No. 2 seed, beat Gabriel Markus of Argentina 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. The second-round match had been suspended Thursday with Edberg leading 3:1 in the 4th set. After Marcus came from behind to force a decisive 5th set, Edberg got the decisive break to go up 5:4. He then served out the match, slamming the ball into the stands with joy. Also in five sets won his match Petr Korda, the finalist of that tournament, overcoming Shuzo Matsuoka 1-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Third round: (Jim Sarni)

As Ivan Lendl continues to slide, Jim Courier just gets stronger. While Lendl suffered another early-round defeat Friday, Courier put on another overpowering display and moved a step closer to defending his French Open title. Courier advanced to the final 16 by punishing Alberto Mancini courier_rg92of Argentina 6-4, 6-2, 6-0, leaving no doubt he’s the man to beat again this year. “I’m taking everything in stride,” he said. “My name’s not going to come off last year’s trophy, and hopefully I can stencil another one on there this year.” He hasn’t dropped a set and has beaten two of the world’s most dangerous clay-court players – Thomas Muster [22] and Mancini [18] – on consecutive days. “Any time you can get through the first three rounds without being pressed, you have to be happy,” he said. “I’m very pleased to get through relatively fatigue-free. I’m feeling fresh.” The first set against Mancini was even as the two slugged it out from the baseline and stayed on serve – until Courier capitalized on two errors to break at 5:4. It was one-sided after that as Courier wore Mancini down. Courier, who is known mostly for his relentless ground strokes, did lots of damage with his serve and never faced a break point the entire match. “I couldn’t return his serve,” Mancini said. “There was no chance to break him. That puts a lot of pressure on your own serve. For him, it’s easy when you’re No. 1 and you’re winning so much to be mentally tough.”  No. 2 seed Stefan Edberg, the 1992 ITF world champion, ousted by Russian Andrei Cherkasov, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(4). Cherkasov dropped 13 games, the exact number he took off Edberg when they met in the fourth round at Roland Garros a year before, when Edberg won 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-3. No. 4 seed Michael Stich, the reigning Wimbledon champion, swept aside by France’s Henri Leconte, 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-4. Two other seeds fell as well, at the hands of the first Uruguayans to reach the round of 16 at the French Open. Qualifier Diego Perez dumped No. 12 Richard Krajicek, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1, and Marcelo Filippini beat No. 13 Aaron Krickstein, who retired because of blisters at 6-1, 1-0. When the red clay dust settled, Petr Korda (7), who beat Michiel Schapers, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, was the only seed left in the bottom half of the draw.  Michael Chang kept saving match points – one, two, three, four – to get to 5-all in the 5th set. Four games later, Chang was at it again – five, six, seven, eight. The match was going to last forever. Nicklas Kulti, ranked No. 94, couldn’t lose his serve and Chang refused to surrender his. Deadlock on a roaring Court 1 at Roland Garros on Saturday. Chang hit a backhand crosscourt for a game point for 7-all. But Chang missed a forehand long, and was back serving at deuce. A disastrous double fault. Now match point No. 9, and this time, Chang was out of lives. Chang charged, but Kulti passed him with a forehand. Chang barely got his racket on it. And so ended an incredible day at the French Open. A carnage of men’s champions: Chang, the 1989 French Open champion and the No. 5 seed, bounced by Sweden’s Kulti, 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6. “I’m sorry I’m not in the bottom half anymore,” said Chang, who battled the lanky Kulti and singing Swedish fans with horns and blue-and-yellow flags painted on their faces for 4 hours and 39 minutes. “It was like a football match,” Chang said. “Some Swedes were singing in one section and their friends were on the other side, so it looked like the whole stadium was chanting.” kulti_chang_rg92Maybe it was Sweden’s turn. Chang had beaten a Swede in five sets in each of the past three years, beginning with Edberg in the 1989 final. Chang is nearly invincible in five-setters (11-4), but he has lost three of his past five. “It was a great match, win or lose,” Chang said. “At the end, he played too well on his serve. It left him in the fourth, but it came back in the fifth set. Serving so well, he knew he could take chances on my serve.” Serving at 4:5, Chang saved his first match point when Kulti hit a forehand wide. Chang saved the next two with volleys, the fourth with an overhead. At 6:7, Kulti netted a backhand on his fifth match point, Chang then used a forehand crosscourt to save the sixth and Kulti returned a backhand long on the seventh. After netting a backhand, Chang saved his eighth match point with a fine backhand volley. Chang got his ad next, but couldn’t add another winner. “Some of his shots at the end were incredible. He was smashing the ball and saying ‘go in’ and the ball was obeying him,” Chang said. “Chang played well on the match points. I couldn’t do anything,” said Kulti, who continues a tradition, begun in 1989, of having at least one Swede in the round of 16. “I just tried to forget it and win the next point.” said Kulti referring to wasted match points. Other Americans didn’t disappoint: Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi won their matches quite convincingly; Sampras outplayed Rodolphe Gilbert 6-3 6-2 6-3 while Agassi rallied from a set down to beat Goran Prpic 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(4). Other Goran, Prpic’s compatriot Ivanisevic, who has won the most 5-setters of the Open era with at least 14 games in the final set, won his first five-setter of this type struggling past Magnus Larsson 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 9-7 in 3 hours 15 minutes.

Fourth round: David Crary

Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras recorded fourth-round victories today in the French Open to set up a quarterfinal showdown. Sampras, seeded third, routed Germany’s Carl-Uwe Steeb 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 and Agassi, seeded 11th, beat Emilio Sanchez of Spain 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 in the completion of a match suspended by rain Sunday. “Today was the best match I’ve played on clay in my life,” said Sampras, who lost to Steeb in April on a slow surface in Monte Carlo. “I played really smart. I was patient. I served well.” Jim Courier‘s 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Andrei Medvedev left the young Ukrainian thunderstruck. “I thought I could have fun and play well, but he didn’t let me do that,” Medvedev said. “It wasn’t actually funny.” Courier will face eighth-seeded Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia, who overpowered ninth-seeded Carlos Costa of Spain 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1. Asked about Courier, who has won 20 straight matches, Ivanisevic replied, “He’s too good. He’s hitting the ball so hard.’‘ But Ivanisevic, not considered a clay-court specialist, was delighted with his victory over the ninth-seeded Costa, winner of two tournaments on clay this season (Costa prior to Roland Garros ’92 was considered as one of very few players who could have defeated Courier). “I’m playing well,” Ivanisevic said. “Courier is the favorite… I have nothing to lose.” Courier said his game was better than a year ago, when he dominated the tournament. “I’m a more complete player,” he said. “I cherkasov_rg92don’t give away as many free points as I used to.” In other action Monday, the Frenchman Henri Leconte pushed ahead into the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Marcelo Filippini of Uruguay, who had benefited from Aaron Krickstein’s default in the previous round. Leconte, the losing finalist here in 1988, will play a quarterfinal match with Nicklas Kulti, who added qualifier Diego Perez, another Uruguayan, to his list of victims (6-0 3-6 7-5 6-4). Kulti, a 21-year-old Swede ranked No. 94, had earlier upset John McEnroe and Michael Chang. Andrei Cherkasov, conquerer of Edberg, beat the Frenchman Cedric Pioline, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(1), on Monday and earned a quarterfinal appointment with Petr Korda, a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victor over Jaime Oncins, the man who dumped Ivan Lendl in the first round. For the 21-year-old Cherkasov, it was third quarterfinal at different major (Aussie Open & US Open 1990), but the Russian never reached even third round afterwards, despite playing many years – he retired at the age of 34.

Quarterfinals: Jim Sarni

agassi_rg92Andre Agassi, chasing his first Grand Slam title, powered past struggling Pete Sampras on a rain-dampened court today to reach the French Open semifinals for the third straight year. A loss in a first-set tiebreak seemed to subdue Sampras, and Agassi breezed to a 7-6(6), 6-2, 6-1 victory in just under 2 hours. Agassi won the last six games of the 3rd set, which took only 28 minutes. Later, defending champion Jim Courier survived his first tough match, overcoming Goran Ivanisevic, 6-2, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 to set up a semifinal showdown with Agassi. Sampras’ usually potent serve often failed him, and Agassi – with a stronger backhand – had the edge in baseline exchanges. Sampras was seeded third, based on his world ranking as a hard-court maestro, but Agassi, the No. 11 seed, was favored due to his virtuosity on clay. The two Americans had split their previous six matches, but Agassi had won both those played on clay. The match began more than an hour late because of rain and was halted for 30 minutes at the start of the third set by another shower. Both players had asked for a delay, and Agassi borrowed an umbrella from a fan to make his point. Agassi has reached the finals here the past two years, losing in 1990 to Andres Gomez and last year to Courier, who was next on the schedule, resuming his suspended match with eighth-seeded Ivanisevic. Courier raced through the first two sets as evening fell Tuesday, seemingly on course for an easy victory. But Ivanisevic, furious at himself for mistakes early on, settled down while Courier made some unaccustomed errors to lose his first set of the tournament. The match was suspended because of darkness with Courier leading 2-1 in sets. “Can anybody see anything?” Courier asked as he tried unsuccessfully to halt play before Ivanisevic could win the third set. Rain has now disrupted play on seven of the 10 days of the tournament. Officials said it was the most rain-disrupted French Open since 1973, when the final, won by Romania’s Ilie Natase, was played two days late. After the resumption, Ivanisevic led 4:1* in the 4th set before Courier took six of the last seven games. Henri Leconte, a wild card ranked No. 200, upset Wimbledon champion Michael Stich in the third round, but he didn’t stop there. Leconte eliminated Marcelo Filippini in the next round. It looked like it was finish for Leconte in the quarterfinals Wednesday, when he lost the first two sets to Nicklas Kulti. Then the crowd started clapping and chanting for Henri. Leconte heard the cry and answered with a miraculous comeback, catching Kulti 6-7(8), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in the fading darkness. Il Est Magique, read the headline across “L’Equipe”, France’s sports daily. You could feel the joy across every boulevard from Montmarte to the Marais. “You have to give everything you have in your heart to win this match,” said Leconte, who is 7-0 in five-setters at Roland Garros. “It was so important and that is why the public was unbelievable. The people gave me a lot of energy. It was fabulous. I am happy for me and for them.” Leconte raised his arms and blew the leconte_rg92fans a kiss at the finish. Leconte has all the charisma of Connors, with class. The French fans booed the enigmatic Leconte when he lost the 1988 final in uninspired fashion to Mats Wilander, but they love the guy now for not giving up. Months after his third back operation, Leconte led France in its Davis Cup victory over the United States last November in Lyon. For an encore, Leconte is trying to add the French Open, which may be an even more extraordinary achievement. In 1983, Yannick Noah became the first Frenchman to win the French Open in 37 years. Now Leconte is two victories from sainthood. “I am not thinking about dreams,” Leconte said. “I am thinking about the next match. It will be a difficult match, but I want to do the best I can.” Leconte should be able to handle Petr Korda, the seventh-seeded Czech who finished off Andrei Cherkasov 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-4 in their suspended 3-hour match Thursday. Korda is as unpredictable as Leconte, but he has never reached this stage of a Grand Slam. Most importantly, can Korda cope with the 16,500 crazy fans behind Leconte? You think the Bulls have a home-court advantage at Chicago Stadium? Try playing Leconte at Roland Garros. No one wants Leconte to win more than NBC, because that would set up a sensational final against Courier or Agassi. If Courier wins, No. 1 vs. No. 200. Huge odds against Leconte. If Agassi wins, a personality clash of two men who want to win the French Open more than anything. Leconte would have a chance.

Semifinals: Jim Sarni

There are lots of empty seats at the outdoor cafes around St. Germain. No one is sunbathing by the Seine, or standing in line at Berthillon’s for the world’s best ice cream. It was cold in town Friday, with a wind chill that made it feel more like late October than early June. The fans, who came to Roland Garros bundled in coats and sweaters, looked like they belonged at a football game. It’s cold, but Jim Courier is red-hot. The defending French Open champion roasted Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to move into Sunday’s final against seventh-seeded Petr Korda, who doused the flame of local hero Henri Leconte 6-2, 7-6(4), 6-3. Courier, the No. 1 player in the world, has won 22 consecutive matches, 13 in a row at the French Open, 12 in a row in Grand Slams (Courier won the Australian Open in January) and 12 in a row on clay (Courier won the Italian Open last month). Courier has lost only one set in the tournament, to Ivanisevic in the quarterfinals. Agassi, who lost a five-set final to Courier here last year, didn’t come close Friday. “Jim deserved that match absolutely,” Agassi said. “He’s putting everything together this tournament. I said before the match, that if he could go out there and do it against me, then he would make a believer out of me.” “I am hitting the ball very well, hitting with a lot of confidence, and I just don`t worry about the results,” said Courier, who won 99 points in the match. “I go out there, hit the ball and have fun.” Agassi kept the 1st set interesting for a while. It was 3:3 after 33 minutes, but then Courier won 15 of the last 19 games. Agassi did what he could. “I felt like I got into the match, but the thing is that when a guy is playing as well as Jim is playing, you’ve got to score when you have your chances to break,” said Agassi, who had three break points in the match. Agassi was not crushed by this year’s loss. The French Open semifinal has been the highlight of Agassi’s sorry season. “I am leaving with a lot less questions than I came here with”, Agassi said. “I had a lot of doubt lately about playing. I have lost matches this year that are kind of out of the ordinary, and I came here wondering if the same thing was going to happen again. But I was able to bear down and get through the draw.” The 22-year-old Americans created the first pair of the Open era to play four years in a row in the same major (Courier 3-1)… Korda, the thin, left-handed Czech Davis Cup korda_rg92player, flew above the pro- Leconte crowd in the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career. “There is a big motion going on in my body. Nobody expected me to be in the final and now I have to learn how to handle it,” said Korda, 24, who broke into the Top 10 at the end of 1991. “I played my best match at Roland Garros today, and I can play on the level I’m playing now.” Leconte started slowly, then couldn’t finish off the 2nd set when he served for it at 5:4. Korda quieted the crowd when he won the tiebreaker, as Leconte made back-to-back backhand errors in the 10th game. “I knew the crowd would be wild if Leconte was leading,” said Korda, who showed he could stand up to a nationalistic crowd during the Davis Cup matches against the U.S. in Fort Myers last March, “They were much quieter today.” Leconte rallied from a two-set deficit to beat Kulti in the quarterfinals, but this time, the Frenchman who was ranked No. 200, was down for the count. Korda broke for a 2:1 lead in the 3rd set, then held off Leconte when he came charging back with two break points in the 4:3 game. Korda saved the second break point with a running forehand crosscourt, and then leaped in the air three times. A discouraged Leconte was broken in the final game for the match. “I did not recuperate very well and it was visible,” said Leconte, 28, who nearly quit the game three weeks ago, “Korda played very intelligent. Some days he can crack in the head, but he was putting the ball back and I was making all the mistakes. He played a perfect match to beat me.”

Final: Nick Stout

Proclaiming himself “a little older, a little wiser,” Jim Courier won his second straight French Open (third major, nine titles overall at the time), beating Petr Korda, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1, in less than 2 hours. After he had been congratulated on the victory podium by the aged French champions Jean Borota and René Lecoste, Courier took the microphone and addressed the crowd in French, expressing “un grand courier_korda_rg92merci” for their support. Then, switching to English, he congratulated the loser on having had a “great week.” “He’s a great player,” Courier said. “We’ll see a lot more of him.” Nobody really expected Courier, the first back-to-back winner here since Ivan Lendl in 1986-87, to lose this championship match to Korda, who had never before made it past the third round in a Grand Slam tournament. But stranger things have happened at Roland Garros, and Korda, a Czechoslovak ranked No. 8 in the world, had already beaten Courier once (Montreal ’91), on a hard surface. “I knew how I was going to play him,” Courier said after he had safely increased his fortune by 2.6 million French francs, almost $485,000, “but the big question mark was how he was going to play me. He can be very dangerous, and I didn’t know how he was going to react.” Courier said he expected his opponent either to “come out swinging” in the knowledge that he could not really embarrass himself against the world’s top player, or to be wound too tight to put up a fight. “I think he reacted on the tight side,” Courier said, adding that he had expected Korda to deliver a mightier serve than he did. “He didn’t go for very many first serves,” Courier said, “and that was a shock to me.” Korda, once Ivan Lendl’s ballboy in the Davis Cup competition, agreed that the pressure of a Grand Slam final had been too much for him. “I had never been that nervous on the court,” he said. “It was completely different from the normal tournament.” Korda, 24, did manage to dazzle his 21-year-old adversary with a mix of drops and sling-shot groundstrokes through much of the 1st set. Courier broke him to go to 5:3, but Korda promptly returned the favor. On break point, Korda handled Courier’s hard crosscourt backhand to the corner almost without trying, which forced Courier into a mistake that prolonged the set. They traded games until Korda was serving to save the set at 5:6. “I was very nervous,” Korda said, recounting that stage of the match, “Since 5-all, my hand – well, it is still tight. I couldn’t play my game. I tell you honestly,I was trying everything, but nothing was working.” He served one of his nine double faults to make it 0/40. He saved the first set point when his backhand volley hit the tape and fell forward rather than backward. But at 15/40, he volleyed wide off the service return and consequently lost the set. “I was trying to mix it up,” Korda said, “to play one ball hard, one slower, one stop, everything. And I think it was working. Except my body didn’t work too much.” It was working well enough, however, to enable Korda to go up a break on Courier in the  2nd set for a 2:1 lead. “He wasn’t letting me play in the rhythm that I would normally like to play,” Courier said. “He was slicing a lot and moving the ball around and hitting winners and making errors. With Petr, it’s always like that. He doesn’t give you a lot of rhythm because he’s dictating a lot of what’s going on.” Game 2. of the 2nd set was a mini-match by itself. Korda saved five break points as the pair went to deuce seven times. Through it all, Korda double-faulted twice and won back two points with aces. When he sealed the game with a forehand winner down the line, he faced the crowd as a conductor confronts his orchestra and directed the well-deserved applause himself. courier-korda-1992Pumped up now, he broke Courier in the next game, slamming home an overhead on the fly for the winning point. This gave him a 2:1 edge on his serve. “I was emotional,” Korda said. “But then I started to serve and I was stiff like wood. I couldn’t swing. I couldn’t do anything. I cannot explain how I felt on the court at that time.” Alas, he would win only one more game in the entire match. He would serve more double faults, commit more inexplicable errors, all while Courier completed an afternoon’s work seemingly unfettered. Korda may have lost the final, but he is 1.3 million French francs richer for the effort. “It means a lot, getting to the final,” he said, “and I’m going to remember it all the time. I have to be happy. I reached the final, and it was a long, long way to get there.” Courier, who won the Australian Open in January, thus becomes the first American to make it halfway through the Grand Slam season undefeated since Don Budge did so in 1938. The next stop is Wimbledon, the grass-court classic where Courier lost last year in quarterfinals to the eventual champion, Michael Stich. “I have a good chance,” Courier said. “It’s not my best surface, but I have two weeks to serve and volley. I’m not going there to lose.” Yet he was eliminated as early as third round by unheralded Andrei Olhovskiy which snapped Courier’s 25-match winning streak. Stats of the final


French Open, Paris
May 24, 1993; 128 Draw (16 seeds) – $4,162,280; Surface – Clay

It was an end of a particular period in men’s tennis – the time of emphatic Jim Courier’s domination. The American was an undisputed king of clay in the early 90s, who had won four biggest tournaments on this surface then (Roland Garros 1991-92 & Rome 1992-93), En route to the French Open final ’93, he didn’t impress, yet not too many pundits could expect his dethronization from hands of Sergi Bruguera, whom Courier had beaten on four previous occasions not dropping even a set once.
All scorelines
First round: Austin American

In case there were any doubts, the verdict on Ivan Lendl is brutally clear: He’s no longer a player to be feared. Signs of Lendl’s demise were confirmed yesterday when the three-time champion lost in the first round of the French Open to a French qualifier playing only his second tour match. Stephane Huet, ranked No. 297 in the world, shocked the seventh-seeded Lendl in four sets – 3-6, 7-5, 6-0, 7-6(2) – to register the first upset of the tournament. It was Lendl’s second straight first-round loss in a Grand Slam event. “You can’t just give up after one day,” the 33-year-old age Lendl said. “You have good days and you have bad days. When I was 25 or something and I had a bad day like this, nobody ever questioned it. I don’t think there’s any reason to question it now.” At least Bruguera and Filippini were established players. Huet, 22 ((age)), played in his first tour event in Marseille as a qualifier in February, losing to Goran Prpic in the first round. A left-hander with a two-handed backhand, Huet said Lendl had been one of the players he admired most while growing up. “The idea of playing him was magic,” he said. “I just told myself not to waste the chance. I’ve had trouble eating the last three days because I was so nervous. I had a hard time believing I had qualified. Now to have beaten Lendl.” The other matches went according to form. Pete Sampras, playing his first Grand Slam tournament as the top seed, beat clay-court specialist Andrei Cherkasov 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 on center court in 2.5 hours. Most of the questions at the post-match interview focused on Andre Agassi’s weekend wisecrack about Sampras: “Nobody should be ranked No. 1 who looks like he just swung from a tree.” “It’s best for me not to get into any verbal words with Andre,” Sampras said. “I was a bit surprised. I consider Andre a pretty good friend. When I heard about it, my feelings weren’t really that hurt. Maybe he didn’t mean it. I try to play with class and that’s something that’s really important to me. I wouldn’t say anything negative about anyone.” Goran Ivanisevic overcame stomach problems to down Franco Davin 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. The Croatian vomited at the back of the court after winning the first set – a problem he attributed to getting too much sun watching tennis the day before. Sweden’s Stefan Edberg has won Grand Slam events on concrete and Grand Slam events on grass, but he never has had his day on clay. The French Open, the Grand Slam title missing from Edberg’s resume, began on a warm and muggy Monday with all the top stars winning easily. Edberg was among them, scoring a 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over clay-court specialist Marcelo Filippini. The two-time U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion, Edberg never will feel at home on a clay court until they plant grass on it. But there Edberg was against Filippini, coming in on almost every shot, playing his usual fast-court game on the slowest of slow courts and coming away a winner. But can he win six more matches, then walk away with the French Open trophy? Has winning the French Open become his obsession? “Obsession? That’s a strong word for me,” Edberg said. “But it really would make it complete. I know it’s the hardest one to win. I have another couple of chances, then it’s out the window, to be realistic.” Climbing through the window into the second round were second-seeded Jim Courier and fourth-seeded Boris Becker. Becker, who does not list a title on clay among his 38 tournament victories, ousted 17-year-old Nicolas Escude, a French wild card playing his first main-level match, 6-0, 6-3, 6-0. Courier, the two-time defending champion, spent 2 hours, 14 minutes in the humidity of Center Court and emerged with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Roberto Azar of Argentina. A left-hander, Azar didn’t have much that could hurt Courier. About the only thing he managed to do was to make Courier ‘s shirt wet. “To quote Stefan, ‘I did what I had to do,’” Courier said. Actually no one quotes Edberg that much, probably because most of what he says is so routine. But winning the French Open would certainly be out of the ordinary. After all, the French Open already is something of a milestone – the 40th consecutive Grand Slam in which Edberg has played, a streak that began at Wimbledon in 1983. Tony Pickard, Edberg’s coach, said five weeks of playing on clay has put Edberg in the best condition possible for a run at the only major title that has eluded him. “The most important thing is that he believes he can win it – and win it the way he wants to win it,” Pickard said. Brad Gilbert won his first match at the French Open in six years, registering a two-day 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 10-8 victory over fellow American Bryan Shelton. Gilbert and Shelton shared 87 unforced errors in the 3-hour-and-52-minute match. Gilbert said after the match, “It was a chapter out of my book… Unequivocally ugly.Very hot player at the time, Mark-Kevin Goellner [48] who’d won Nice as a qualifier a couple weeks before, was awarded playing on Centre Court, and survived a 5-set battle vs David Wheaton [33] 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4 in 3 hours 49 minutes edging in aces as well (20-15). Other hot player, by many considered as the biggest threat to Courier, Andrei Medvedev, had very tough draw facing a player (Guillermo Perez-Roldan) who had defeated him rather easily two weeks before in Rome. Medvedev survived 6-7(2), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 on court no. 2 after 3 hours 46 minutes (3:33h according to the on-court clock), being two games away from defeat in 3rd & 5th set.

Second round: Charles Bricker

No-names continue to upstage big names at the French Open. Michael Chang, the 1989 champion, and last year’s runner-up Petr Korda on Thursday became the latest seeds to lose to unsung players with modest records. Chang, the No. 8 seed who earlier this week tipped himself as a possible surprise winner, caused a surprise of a different sort by bowing to Bernd Karbacher of Germany in the second round. Karbacher, leading two sets to one when the match was suspended late Wednesday, overwhelmed Chang in the fourth set to complete a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory and reach the third round of a Grand Slam event for the first time. “He just played too good,” said Chang, who has failed to get past the French quarterfinals since winning the title four years ago at the age of 17. “He didn’t miss a whole lot of balls. When you play a hot-and-cold type player and they get on a hot streak, it’s difficult.” Karbacher, who bears a striking resemblance to compatriot Michael Stich, is ranked No. 39 in the world and came into the French with a 1993 record of 8-13. But he was confident going into the Chang match, knowing he had beaten him in their only previous meeting, in Stuttgart last year. “My tennis is very much based on confidence,” Karbacher said. And today, I thought I could win the match when I walked onto the court.” The score was tied 1:1 in the 4th set when the match resumed on Court 2. Chang held serve in the first game, a marathon which went to deuce seven times and took a total of 20 points. The German ran off the next five games to finish the match. At one stage, he won 15 points in a row, including three straight games at love. He was jumping on Chang’s serves and pounding them back for clean winners. Another German, Marc-Kevin Goellner, also produced an upset by beating the sixth-seeded Petr Korda 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(8). It was the third straight day in which top names lost to little-known players, with Ivan Lendl ousted Tuesday by qualifier Stephane Huet and Boris Becker eliminated Wednesday by Rodolphe Gilbert. Third-seeded Stefan Edberg defied the upset trend, holding off a comeback by Aaron Krickstein to win 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 in 165 minutes on Centre Court. After the Swede played what he described as some of his best clay-court tennis in the first two sets, Krickstein fought back to win the 3rd set and was up 5:2* in the 4th. After Edberg held for 3:5, then Krickstein hit three consecutive aces, probably for the only time in his career, (fired seven in total) and was one point away from sending the match into a fifth set. “I don’t think that’s ever happened to me,” Edberg said about receiving three aces in a row. “At 40/0 down, the only thing I really had in my mind was just to make sure he didn’t hit the fourth ace.” This time, Krickstein missed his first serve. Edberg took a risk on the second, hitting a perfect backhand drop shot. He saved three more set points, two with clean winners, and eventually broke serve to beat Krickstein sixth time in a row.
Boris Becker changed his coach, changed his shirt, changed his hair and changed his racquet, but he could not change his fortune in the French Open. Becker loses here as regularly as the boats leave Pont de l’Alma for their trips down the Seine. On Wednesday, with the sky the color of one of Becker’s gray shirts, the French Open once again bid adieu to an ardent, but ill-fated, suitor. Becker, ranked No. 4, lost in the second round to No. 92 Rodolphe Gilbert, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5, thus continuing a stretch of clay-court futility that Becker is destined never to forget, long after he cleans the red dust from his socks and shoes. “This one seems to get more important over the years,” Becker said. Gilbert said he played soccer goalie as a boy and didn’t take up tennis until 11. His biggest victory previously was over Pete Sampras at Key Biscayne in 1991. In the most one-sided match of the day, No. 10 Sergi Bruguera beat Frenchman Thierry Champion 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 – only the fifth time in the Open Era that a male player has won all three sets at love. The most disgruntled loser was 14th-seeded Wayne Ferreira of South Africa, who punished his racket and avoided the customary post-match handshakes after Paul Haarhuis of Holland downed him in four sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 7-6(0). Jim Courier is rolling along on a nine-match clay winning streak. Sergi Bruguera is manufacturing Spanish bagels. Stefan Edberg has gotten through two tough matches without much trouble. Michael Stich is serving hard enough to leave craters in the red clay. And, by the way, wasn’t that Pete Sampras over on Court 1 Friday, crushing Marcos Ondruska 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 to go into the third round of the French Open? Despite being the No. 1 player in the world, Sampras seems to be the forgotten player at this Grand Slam – the California kid who grew up on hardcourts and can’t win on dirt. Except that he is, and Jeff Tarango, who lost to Courier Friday, said flat out: ‘‘Bet on him. I just think he’s playing great right now, and those two (Courier and Sampras) are definitely the two guys to beat.” Sampras might not be quite so sure yet. His win over Ondruska was important because the young South African is a control baseliner. But Sampras had his problems. He was impatient in the final set, trying to rush an end to the points. ”I got a little sloppy,” he said. ”Something you can’t do on clay. And the clay was pretty slow today so you have to take your time.” The victory raised Sampras’ record on clay this year to 12-3 (he was 15-7 in 1992) and he has won five of his last six and nine of his last 11 on dirt. This latest win completed a match suspended after one set Thursday because of rain. One other suspended match was completed. Jonas Svensson made it to the third round by beating Javier Sanchez 6-3, 6-7(2), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 after 3 hours 35 minutes. They played three times against each other, and Svensson always prevailed in dramatic fashion.

Third round: Stephen Wilson

Goran Ivanisevic did lose on clay, fumbling a return on Carlos Costa‘s [50] fourth match point and falling from contention, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-3. Costa, a Spanish clay-court specialist, has never progressed beyond the French Open’s fourth round, while Ivanisevic has twice reached the costa_rgquarterfinals. But the Ivanisevic of 1993, aggravated by everything from sunstroke to stress fractures, is not the same player who cannonaded to last year’s Wimbledon final. Costa out-aced him 7-6 avenging the fourth round loss a year before. Who said serve-and-volleyers can’t excel on clay? Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg are doing just fine. Top-seed Sampras and No. 3 Edberg cruised into the round of 16 at the French Open with straight-set victories Saturday, establishing themselves as strong threats to wrest the title from the baseline brigade. Sampras swept past Jonas Svensson 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in a little more than two hours on Center Court, after Edberg had downed American Jonathan Stark 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(4). Despite his No. 1 ranking and seeding, Sampras is not considered the favorite because of the slow surface. No. 2 Jim Courier, the two-time defending champion with the punishing backcourt game, is the consensus pick. The smooth-stroking Sampras did not play brilliantly Saturday, yet he never was in trouble against Svensson, a solid clay-court veteran (two-time French Open smeifinalist). “I don’t want to say I played bad, I just didn’t hit the ball that great today,” Sampras said. “But I competed well, and I got the points I needed.” Sampras, who won the U.S. Open on hard courts in 1990, said his outlook toward clay has changed since he began trying to master the surface last year. “When I first came to Paris a few years ago, I never gave myself a chance,” he said. “I was going out with a negative attitude. I’ve always said I want to be an all-court player. I didn’t want to walk away like a baby. I wanted to get that monkey off my back. Now I’m going into it confident.” Confident would be the word to describe Edberg, who declared himself fit to finally win the one Grand Slam title that has eluded him. The closest he came was in 1989, when he lost to Michael Chang in the final. “I feel solid on the clay,” Edberg said. “I am probably playing as well this year as I have for quite some time. It’s hard to compare to 1989, but it’s not far off.” In beating Stark, Edberg served and volleyed as if he were on his favorite grass at Wimbledon. The match was fairly even, but Edberg dominated his service games and capitalized on his chances to break Stark. “I couldn’t handle his kick serve,” Stark said. “I went five games without returning a ball. I was shanking everything.” Still it was Stark, 22, on Center Court. “There was a little awe for me,” he said. “I caught myself in the third set looking down and seeing the red clay and thinking, Here I am. It was a special feeling.” Other fourth-round berths were filled by No. 10 Sergi Bruguera, No. 11 Andrei Medvedev, No. 16 Malivai Washington and a group of unseeded gatecrashers: Marc Goellner, Paul Haarhuis and qualifier Fernando Meligeni. The biggest surprise was Meligeni, a Brazilian ranked 167th in the world. He rallied to beat Patrick Kuhnen of Germany 3-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 8-6. Meligeni, who had failed to qualify for a single event on the pro tour this year, has slipped into the final 16 almost unnoticed. The statistics sheets for the other 15 fourth-round competitors list copious season highlights – tournaments won, semifinals gained, etc. But on Meligeni’s stat sheet, the space after ‘1993 Highlights’ is blank. Meligeni got into the tournament only by winning three qualifying matches. He drew an inexperienced French wild card, 226th-ranked Stephane Sansoni, in the first round and won in straight sets. His luck held in the second round. Instead of facing Ivan Lendl, he played Lendl’s surprise conqueror, 297th-ranked Stephane Huet, also of France, and again won in straight sets. Saturday, the 22-year-old Brazilian had a tougher foe, and much tougher struggle, but rallied from two sets down to beat 96th-ranked Kuhnen. Jeff Tarango played one brilliant set, but didn’t have the staying power and was beaten by second-seeded Jim Courier 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-5. Courier doesn’t want to talk about anything but his next opponent, Muster, who said earlier that ” Courier is a machine, not a player.” That gave Courier a tickle. ”I guess I will be looking in a mirror because Tom is the same type. Playing ‘blade runner.’ We play similar styles on the clay.” Because of the rain, Sampras is a round behind Courier . He has to win four more to get to the final. ”I want to say if Sampras and Courier are in the final, you’ll probably see the best tennis match ever,” said Tarango. Rising talent is Mark-Kevin Goellner pulled out a 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-3, 6-7(8), 7-5 victory over Mark Woodforde in a match that lasted 3:49h (the same lasted Goellner’s first round match). The 6’5 feet German, who wears his baseball hat backwards, pounded 29 aces, including nine in the final set. His next opponent will be Andrei Medvedev, 18, the Ukrainian who beat Gabriel Markus 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.  In two dramatic five-setters, 13th-seeded Karel Novacek defeated Stefano Pescosolido, 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 5-7, 8-6 (3:31h), while 12th-seeded Richard Krajicek prevailed over Jordi Arrese, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2 (3:00h).  Krajicek squandered a couple of match points in the 4th set, but stayed cool because Arrese hadn’t even a break point since the end of the 1st set. Novacek during his win served 17 aces, Krajicek 13.

Fourth round: Charles Bricker

Former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich, the men’s ninth seed, was blown violently off course by another Croat, Goran Prpic, going down 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2. ”It is my biggest, biggest success ever. This is the tournament I like the most. So to be in the quarterfinals… it is just… I can’t express my feelings. It is just too much.” The 29-year-old Pripic was an Australian Open quarter-finalist two years before. What do you say about a guy who was thinking about retirement a few weeks ago? Who has only one career title, at a little spot in Croatia named Umag in 1990? Whose record for 1993, coming into the French Open, was 6-10? ”Yeah, six wins. That’s all. In (five) months it is not a lot. I was losing to guys like I shouldn’t. I mean, I’m not young anymore, so a lot of youngsters out there are waiting for me.” It has been fun, but don’t expect this guy to last any longer. His next opponent is the winner of the Courier-Muster match. Probably Courier. ”He’s going to hit hard. I am going to run. I don’t know what to say,” Prpic said. “I am just worried not to lose 6-love, 6-love, 6-love, like Thierry Champion. But I am going to try.” He looked strong enough to win this tournament. In the longest match of the day, Richard Krajicek needed 4:12h to overcome Carlos Costa 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 5-7, 10-8. Costa had led 5:3 in the final set, but couldn’t capitalize. At 5:4, Costa had 30/15 on serve when Krajicek broke a pattern “one break for each serve”; astonishingly he was outplayed by Costa in the ace department: 4-7. Can Pete Sampras find lobs and happiness on the red clay courts of Roland Garros, long the ceremonial burial grounds of the serve-and-volley gentry? Hey, anything is possible here in the French Open, the dirtball capital of the world, where the baseliners dream of their ultimate day on clay, and the big hitters hope they can get on the grass courts before they need a psychiatrist. The French Open began its second week Monday with Sampras in the same position as last year. That would be the quarterfinals, which so far is his best finish here. With his usual arsenal of weapons, seeing-eye volleys and serves that need ballistic tests, Sampras eliminated Mal Washington in the fourth round, 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-1, then directed his attention to a clay court artist who could really give him trouble, Sergi Bruguera of Spain. It has gotten to the point that Sampras actually feels sort of comfortable on clay surfaces. For a serve-and-volley player, this is a strange feeling, indeed. Just ask Goran Ivanisevic or Boris Becker, who are reduced to head-shaking, hang-wringing nervous wrecks by the mere mention of clay. It was a no-nonsense performance for Sampras, who yearns to be considered an all-court player. “This is my biggest challenge as far as my career, winning the French Open,” Sampras said. “Clay is obviously a surface I didn’t grow up on. Expectations are probably not very high (for me) for a lot of people, so I am just going to try to hopefully prove those people wrong.” Sampras has sometimes been criticized as being too lackadaisical, an image reinforced by the way he hangs his head and slouches his shoulders. But he appeared more inspired Monday. “Maybe it’s a different attitude,” he said. “Maybe I am looking a little bit more intense on the court and not quite as casual out there, a little bit more business-like. It’s something I am working on. Maybe I am just getting a little bit more mature with my tennis and with everything.” The best that this place has to offer, at least in the last two years, is Jim Courier, the two-time defending champion who on Monday out-slugged No. 15 Thomas Muster of Austria 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, to extend his winning streak in Paris to 18 matches. The other quarterfinal berths were filled by No. 10 Sergi Bruguera and No. 11 Andrei Medvedev. Bruguera, the only player who has not lost a set, swept Brazilian qualifier Fernando Meligeni 6-3, 6-1, 7-5, Medvedev ousted Mark-Kevin Goellner in four sets, the 22-year-old German never played in last 16 in majors again. Also advancing was No. 3-seed Stefan Edberg, who battled for more than three hours in a late center-court match to overcome unseeded Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5). Edberg was treated twice for a thigh or groin problem during the first set, but didn’t appear to be bothered the rest of the match. With Haarhuis leading 4:2 and 5:4* in the fourth-set tiebreaker, Edberg kept up the pressure to avoid a fifth set. He converted his first match point, attacking on Haarhuis’ second serve and putting away a backhand volley.

Quarterfinals: David Crary

The last long-shot in the French Open, Goran Prpic of Croatia, gave Jim Courier a tough battle today before the two-time defending champion beat him and moved into the semifinals. Courier, seeking to become only the player beside Bjorn Borg to win three straight titles here, alternated between total dominance and occasional distraction en route to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 victory over the only unseeded quarter-finalist. Prpic, 29, once was ranked in the Top 20, but has had injury problems and now is ranked 181st. He played today with a heavy brace on his right knee, but in the second and fourth set gave Courier a battle that won cheers from the center court crowd. Courier, now winner of 19 straight French Open matches, needed only 26 minutes to win the first set but 59 minutes for the fourth. Sergi Bruguera capitalized on Pete Sampras‘ errors and serving troubles to bruguera_rg93_oust the No. 1 seed from the French Open in the quarterfinals today. For Bruguera, the No. 10 seed from Spain, the 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory was a moment of glory – his best-ever showing in a Grand Slam tournament. For Sampras, it was another frustration in his attempt to prove he can be a champion on clay. After misplaying a backhand approach shot to give Bruguera the match, Sampras hurled his racket toward his chair and stalked off the court without shaking the hand of chair umpire Jean-Philippe Merlet. Sampras had challenged line calls repeatedly during the match. Sampras made 60 unforced errors, compared with only 24 for Bruguera, and connected on only 49 percent of his booming first serves. Sampras’ 16 career titles include the 1990 U.S. Open, but only one minor clay-court tournament (Kitzbuhel ’92). He has not gotten past the quarterfinals in four French Opens. Bruguera, who had not lost a set in his first four matches here, will play in the semifinals against the winner of today’s match between third-seeded Stefan Edberg and No. 11 seed Andrei Medvedev of Ukraine. The Spaniard played three clay-court finals earlier this year, and rolled through today’s first set with steady play from the baseline while Sampras undid himself with errors. Sampras rallied from a *1:4 deficit to win the 2nd set, but his game collapsed in the 3rd. Bruguera won 13 of 14 points to close out the set, including a couple of brilliant passing shots as Sampras tried vainly to impose his serve-and-volley style. Another semifinal berth was filled by 12th-seeded Richard Krajicek, who slammed his 17th ace to win his suspended match (at two sets apiece) with No. 13 Karel Novacek 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. It was the third straight five-set victory for the hard- serving Dutchman, a feat not achieved at the French Open since 1979. Krajicek, whose best previous Grand Slam was a semifinal loss at the 1992 Australian Open, will play two-time defending champion Jim Courier on Friday for a spot in the finals. Playing in only his third Grand Slam, the 11th-seeded Andrei Medvedev fended off a Stefan Edberg comeback attempt with bullet-like service returns and deadly lobs to win the last men’s quarterfinal 6-0, 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-4. He earned a semifinal match Friday with No. 10 seed Sergi Bruguera of Spain. Medvedev displayed all-round virtuosity, slamming eight service returns for winners, hitting 14 passing shots to only one for the third-seeded Edberg, and neutralizing the Swede’s serve-and-volley game with eight offensive lobs that went for winners. “It was a pre-game plan,” Medvedev said of the lobs. “He was getting too close to the net in his previous matches. He’s very quick at the net. I knew that at the key points I had to make a few lobs.” The match started Wednesday evening, and Medvedev won the first set in an astounding 16 minutes, yielding only seven points to Edberg. Rain forced suspension of the match with the second set tied 5:5. “When someone like Stefan wins only seven points – it’s really my best-ever set,” said Medvedev.

Semifinals: Associated Press

Jim Courier moved to within one match of his third straight French Open title, blasting service returns and passing shots by Richard Krajicek today. Spain’s Sergi Bruguera crushed error-plagued Andrei Medvedev in the other semifinal. Courier, the strong favorite despite his No. 2 seeding, picked apart Krajicek’s serve-and-volley game 6-1, 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-2 (Courier led 5:3/2 in 2nd and 3rd sets). He will play for the title Sunday against 10th-seeded Bruguera, who played forcefully from the baseline in a 6-0, 6-4, 6-2 victory while his 18-year-old foe from Ukraine self-destructed. Medvedev, the No. 11 seed, looked like a champion in ousting Stefan Edberg on Thursday but committed 47 unforced errors today, compared with only nine for Bruguera. Bruguera has won seven titles in his career, all on clay, but in previous Grand Slams has done no better than a fourth-round loss here in 1989. He ousted top-seeded Pete Sampras in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Courier was so dominant and Krajicek so uncomfortable in their first set that an embarrassing rout appeared likely. But the 6-foot-5 Dutchman began volleying better in the second set and succeeded briefly in animating the center-court crowd. “I made a few bad decisions and he raised his game, but I was able to recover, which is the positive thing I take out of it,” Courier said. Even though Krajicek hit 10 aces in the match, Courier was able to get the service breaks he needed – two each in the third and fourth sets. Eleven times he fired back service returns for winners, 13 times he scored on passing shots. Krajicek also hit a few deadly service returns. One forehand in the third set was so powerful that Courier watched it fly by, then bowed in mock awe. “That was the hardest I’ve ever been on the court with,” Courier said. “After that, I tried to get them to his backhand.” Courier now has a 4-1 career edge over Krajicek. This was their first match on clay. It was Courier’s 20th straight victory at the French Open and put him in position to capture the second leg of this year’s Grand Slam after winning the Australian Open in January. Krajicek was impressed by Courier’s speed, particularly in positioning himself to hit his devastating forehands. “I couldn’t get the balls to his backhand,” Krajicek said. “As long as he’s hitting forehands, he’s the one dictating points.” It was the fourth straight match here, in which Courier has dropped the second set. Asked about this by a reporter, he replied in French, “Yes, but I always win the fourth.” Bruguera, the No. 10 seed, is the first Spaniard to reach the French Open final since Manuel Orantes in 1974. The last Spaniard to win the title was Andres Gimeno in 1972. Courier has beaten Bruguera in straight sets in their four previous meetings. Asked what he will need to do to beat Courier, the 22-year-old Spaniard said, “I lost to him four times, so I don’t know how to do it.”

Final: Stephen Wilson

After five sets and four hours of grueling baseline tennis, Sergi Bruguera succeeded Sunday in doing what no one has been able to do in three years – beat Jim Courier at the French Open. Playing in his first Grand Slam final, the 22-year-old Spaniard prevailed 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to halt Courier ‘s French Open winning streak at 20 matches and thwart his bid to join Bjorn Borg as the only man to win three straight titles. Bruguera, the first Spaniard to win the championship since Andres Gimeno in 1972, collapsed onto his back on the red clay after Courier hit a stretch backhand volley into the net on the second match point. “I was in heaven for a moment,” Bruguera said. “It’s unbelievable when your dream comes true. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had.” As Bruguera twitched in ecstasy with his arms covering his face, Courier jogged over, pulled him up, and the two men hugged. Bruguera then ran off the court to embrace his father and coach, Luis. Bruguera, usually a man of few words, was ebullient after accepting the Musketeers’ Cup from former French tennis great Jean Borotra. “I’ll tell you a secret,” he told the crowd in French. “Ever since I was six years old, my birthday wish has been to win the French Open.” Courier, who spoke in French at last year’s award ceremony, delighted the fans with another French speech. “Last year, I spoke like a Spanish cow,” he said, using a French expression for someone who butchers the language. “This year, I played against a Spanish cow.” “No, that wasn’t funny,’‘ Courier continued. “Congratulations to Sergi. Very well played, especially in the fifth set.” Standing several feet behind the baseline, Bruguera whipped the ball with such pace and spin that Courier had trouble getting into position to tee off on his own punishing groundstrokes. Courier hurt himself badly with his own mistakes. He committed 83 unforced errors, accounting for more than half of Bruguera’s points. The Spaniard had 66 errors. Bruguera had the edge in winners, too, 46 to 40. He even out-aced Courier, seven to five. The match was filled with long games and included a total of 40 break points – 26 for Bruguera and 14 for Courier. Bruguera broke serve five times, Courier four. After the two split the first two sets, Bruguera proved his staying power by breaking Courier in a marathon game to open the third set. The game lasted 18 minutes and included 22 points and eight break points, with Bruguera finally winning it with a cross-court backhand passing shot. Courier appeared to be in good position to win the match when he served out the fourth set, then broke in the first game of the fifth set and held easily for a 2:0 lead. Bruguera’s comeback started when he broke Courier to even the set at 2:2. He reached break point with a forehand drop shot and took the game when Courier sailed a forehand long. As the crowd rallied behind him, Bruguera held serve at love in the next game and then followed with the decisive break to go up 4:2. Courier made three straight unforced errors in that game. Bruguera served for the match at 5:3. Courier earned two break points at 15/40, but Bruguera saved the first with a service winner, and Courier squandered the second when he smacked a forehand into the net. Bruguera ripped a backhand passing shot to reach match point, but Courier responded with a forehand winner. Bruguera hit a service winner to earn another match point, and he capitalized this time by hitting a low passing shot which Courier couldn’t handle. Bruguera’s 8th title. Stats of the final

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